How to properly winterize your dog…makes me laugh, like we are talking about an engine. Of course both need to operate at their prime!
We have to be prepared for winter not only for ourselves, but for our pets. There are many safety concerns during the winter in the care of our pets that might not be present during other seasons. See if any of these are new for you:
General Pet Care Tips
- You might need to feed your pets a bit more, depending on the length of time they spend outside. They can burn more calories in the cold, both to keep warm and because running and playtime can be more strenuous in the snow.
- If your pet has long fur you need to keep them groomed and free of mats. Matted fur will create areas of exposure and decrease the insulating ability of long fur and undercoats.
- I always giggle at a dog with a sweater on, but we put on layers, don’t we? Short haired dogs don’t have fur to keep them insulated so an extra layer in the cold will make them a much happier pup….and they can pee faster if they aren’t shaking all over the place.
- Dogs can’t get enough water from eating snow or licking the ice cube in their water bowl. They need to have access to fresh water even during cold times and snow. Plastic bowls are the best during the winter months…heard the term “I triple-dog-dare you!”? Imagine your dog’s warm, wet tongue and a frozen stainless steel bowl…..hmmm, might be a thought. Even better, for those dogs that love the cold weather make sure they have a heated water bowl…but make sure there is always an adequate level of fresh, clean water in it.
Specific Outdoor Tips
- POISON POISON POISON Do you take the dangers of antifreeze seriously? Ever had a leak and not really pay attention to it…just keep adding more as needed? Did you know that for dogs and cats it is like an open Hershey’s bar to a chocoholic? A cat walking through the drips and then licking its’ paws clean could possibly die? A medium-sized dog can die from just 5 tablespoons? It completely destroys the kidneys and there can be a narrow window for successful treatment. Call the vet, Call the vet, CALL THE VET! This is not one to just sit around and see if the dog gets sick. The dog has to be induced to vomit and needs medication to prevent damage. Did I say call the vet? Or better yet, keep the driveway and garage floor clean and keep containers out of the reach of curious noses.
- SO, unless you are one of those people that has purchased doggie snow boots (I giggle at those also) your dog’s PAW-dicure needs to be paid special attention after snowy playtime (or even walking). When they are out they can pick up little icy balls, packed snow, rock salt, calcium chloride, etc., which can chap and crack their paws and some of the chemicals can even make them sick if they lick. Make sure you wipe their paws clean when they come in. There are even products on the market now that you insert each foot into for a bit of a “foot bath” to make sure all the nasties are out. There is a product called Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax that can keep them protected and relieve any soreness.
- And yes, your pet can get frostbite….with long or short fur. The most susceptible areas are the nose, tail, and toes because of exposure. Signs would be discoloration of the skin….it might be pale or even bluish in color. The area might have a lack of sensation initially, but as it warms up it can begin to be painful…frequently a sign something is wrong is during this time of warming. Apply a warm compress (warm only). Do not rub or you can cause additional damage. The vet is the best to assess damage and determine treatment.
MOST of all….if you see any animal left out in the cold with out adequate shelter, please speak to its owner or notify your local animal welfare agency! KSDK graciously provided this list for the St. Louis area.
- Humane Society of Missouri – 314-647-4400
- St. Louis City Animal Control – 314-657-1500
- Stray Rescue of St. Louis – 314-771-6121
- CARE STL – 314-818-2000
- St. Louis County Animal Control– 314-615-0650
- After hours – 314-889-2341
- St. Charles County Animal Control – 636-949-7387
- St. Charles Animal Control
- Weekdays – 636-949-3395
- Nights – 636-949-3396
- Weekends/holidays – 636-949-3300
- St. Peters City Animal Control – (636) 278-2255
- Jefferson County Animal Control – 636-797-5577
- Arnold Animal Control – 636-282-2387
- Franklin County Animal Control – 636-583-4300
- Wentzville Animal Control – 636-327-5105
- St. Clair County Animal Control – 618-235-0585
Janie founded 4-Legged Kids, Inc in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997 and provides education through her PetBizHIVE podcast and her PetBizMBA membership and courses. She is a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator, Fear Free certified and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter. Learn more about the Founder, Janie Budnick.