Winter Weather Care for Your Dog
By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President
For most of us, winter weather has already arrived…even if the season hasn’t officially started. When the flakes start to fly, it can mean fun new adventures for both humans and canines. But it also means that owners need to take extra precautions to protect their pup from the season’s unique challenges.
Low humidity combined with your house’s heating system can cause your dog’s skin to become dry, itchy and flaky. If this becomes a problem for your pup, reduce the number of times you bathe him or only use water, since shampoo can strip away necessary oils. Brush your dog more frequently to stimulate oil glands and remove dead skin. Adding a supplement like fish oil can also help, but check with your vet first.
As nice as it would be to stay in front of the fire, it’s a fact of life for dog owners that eventually you’ll need to venture outside to let them take care of business. When out walking, always keep an eye on your pet to make sure he doesn’t stop to lick any spilled antifreeze. Although it tastes sweet, even small amounts can be deadly. If you walk after dark, consider purchasing items like collars, leashes and coats with reflective material to alert cars to your presence.
Upon returning home, wipe down your dog’s coat, belly, legs and feet. Not only will this keep him from getting chilled, it will remove any antifreeze, salt or toxic chemicals used to melt snow.
If your dog is a senior, suffers from a medical condition or has short or thin fur, a doggie coat can help keep him comfortable both outside the house and in. Make sure the coat fits snugly but isn’t too tight, and check for anything that could rub and irritate his skin. Some dogs aren’t too sure about the sensation of wearing a coat at first. If this is the case with yours, take time to slowly introduce it to him using positive reinforcement.
Many dogs love nothing more than a long romp in the snow. But keep your dog’s limits in mind and call a time-out if you think he may be getting too cold or too tired. If you have a Voyce Health Monitor, you can easily check health indicators like heart rate, respiratory rate and calories burned to make sure he’s not over-extending himself.
Cold weather also means that many pets burn extra energy just to stay warm, even if they’re not especially active. Feeding him a little extra will provide him with much-needed calories. Just make sure you don’t go overboard!
Most loving dog parents already know this but it’s worth repeating: If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your dog. Even if your dog loves being outdoors, never leave him in frigid temperatures for long periods of time. Bring him into the house at regular intervals to warm up and dry out.
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