February 1, 2008

Caring for Dogs in Winter

-written by: KATIE

Even if your dog enjoys the occasional snowfall, owners should take special care and pay close attention during this season.

Winter is upon us in the mountains of Asheville, it is time to give our beloved dogs a little extra care and attention. Our younger canine partners can still enjoy the great outdoors with just a couple of extra things to look out for.Short haired breeds & breeds that feel the cold temperatures will appreciate an extra layer of warmth - there are some great waterproof outward bound dog coats available.

Exercise is important at this time of year. If there is snow on the ground, take care to check your pet’s paws for ice balls or injuries. Also consider rinsing your pet’s feet off, if your pet has walked where de-icing chemicals have been used. Keeping your dog’s nails short & the fur trimmed on the bottom of their pads will help prevent them from slipping on ice and from snow collecting on the bottom of their feet.

Daylight savings can cause dog walking to be a little hazardous if you are out after dark. Consider a reflective leash and collar, as well as reflective coats for you and Fido, which can make you visible to traffic.

Senior & over weight dogs feel the winter harder on their bones – cold, damp weather can aggravate arthritis. Keep them warm and away from cold drafts. Heating pads or a hot water bottle can also lend relief. Remember: if your dog is having trouble getting up or laying down, climbing the stairs, or has started to snap or cry when picked up, you should visit your veterinarian/homeopathic veterinarian for extra advice.

If, for reasons beyond your control, your dog is housed outside or spends a lot of time outside, make sure that you provide adequate shelter. The shelter should be raised off the ground to ensure your pet is protected from the wind, moisture, and cold. Take extra care to ensure that your pet is comfortable with lots of warm bedding and can get into and out of their housing easily.

One thing that can be overlooked in winter is sufficient fresh water for your dog. Check frequently to be sure the water is not frozen during this frigid time of year. Dogs that live outdoors may need additional food (calories) to sustain body temperature as well. You may want to check with your veterinarian to decide if your pet needs additional nutritional intake.

**A Note on Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) - Cats and dogs are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze, and will often sample some if left out in a container or spilled on the garage floor … however, Antifreeze is highly toxic - it is rapidly absorbed (initial signs appear approximately one hour post-ingestion), and there is a high mortality rate. Only a very small amount needs to be ingested to cause signs of intoxication.

Success of treatment is dependent upon a quick response. If you suspect that your animal has come into contact with antifreeze, immediately contact your veterinarian or pet emergency center. The ASPCA also provides information and a Poison Help Line.
A safe alternative to Ethylene Glycol antifreeze is available – Propylene Glycol. While it does cost a little more than ‘regular’ antifreeze, it is worth the piece of mind for those with beloved pets.

Thank you for taking time to read, your pet will appreciate your awareness!
Stay tuned each month for our dog series, including issues such as seasonal care and training.

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