Saturday, December 10, 2011
Walking Fido in a Winter Wonderland!
With the cold weather settling in for the next few months, it's important to consider how you are going to keep your pet warm and safe in this weather.
The first and most obvious thing is to, of course, limit the amount of time that your pup spends outside in the cold. Especially if there is snow or ice on the ground, time outside should be kept to manageable chunks. More pets are reported lost during the winter than during other times of year--this is because snow and cold can dampen smells and make it harder for your pooch to find his way home. Be cautious, and don't let your pet off-leash in a place where they may become lost.
Sweaters, coats, and booties can help to protect short-haired pets from the elements. It may feel a little silly to dress up a dog (who am I kidding, it's adorable!), but Fido will thank you for the extra layers. I've heard from several pet owners here at the Fort that their pups will refuse to go out in the cold or wet without a coat, instead waiting until they are all bundled up. Can't say that I blame them--I haven't been anywhere without a coat in ages!
Protect your pup's pads from the cold and ice by applying something like Musher's Secret. This is a product made from all natural waxes, that coats your pup's paws and protects them from the elements, and any chemicals (such as de-icers) that have been put down to help us two-leggers deal with the weather. Make certain that while walking in this weather you keep an eye out for places that rock salt or other thawing chemicals have been used, and keep Fido from getting too interested! Puddles outside can also act as reservoirs of these chemicals. When you return home, your pup's feet and legs should be rinsed to make sure that no lingering chemicals are waiting to be licked.
There are non-toxic alternatives to the typical lime rock salt and calcium chloride salt, that can be used around pets. Morton Salt has a product, aptly named Safe T Pet, that is completely salt and chloride free. It is safer for pets, plants, and people! It's even easier on the concrete than traditional rock salt.
Just as you wouldn't leave your pet in the car during the summer, you should also avoid leaving them in a vehicle during the winter. While it is out of the wind, cars can still become very cold in a hurry, and this becomes a serious hazard to pets inside. On the subject of cars--many outdoor cats will sleep beneath the engine of parked cars during the winter, enjoying the last bits of radiating heat. If you park outside, make certain that you make some loud noise and check around for sleeping cats before starting your vehicle.
Puppies and older dogs do not tolerate heat as well as adult dogs do, so if you have a junior or senior pet, keep a close eye on how they are doing, and be sensitive to any signs of discomfort that they might be showing. Older dogs especially can have a hard time, if the cold sets off their arthritis. Adequate nutrition from a good food like Kumpi can help to combat this, as well as limiting time spent in the cold.
Make sure that any portable heat sources are out of pet range and keep your fireplace blocked off from Fido, to avoid any dangers that the heat may pose.
If you have any other tips or tricks for dealing with the winter weather, post them in the comments and let us know!
PS--I posted before about a dog accidentally shooting his owner at the beginning of a hunting trip, and I come to find out today that another unfortunate would-be hunter has suffered the same fate. I'm starting to notice a pattern, watch out hunters! Lol