Winter Dangers

Brrr!  It’s cold out there!  I was born in the Caribbean, so I’m not used to cold Rochester winters.  

Dad, you know best, but… I don’t think these qualify as “dog booties.”

I’m learning to enjoy the changing of the seasons, but I’d like to share some tips and tricks with you to keep your pet safe from some of the winter dangers that are lurking around. After all, around here spring is months away.

Take it slow! Get us pets used to the winter great outdoors slowly.  Take us out for just a few minutes at a time when it starts to get chilly.  If you see us shivering or picking up our paws, we are trying to tell you that we’re cold.

How chilly is too cold?  It depends on the dog! Young pups and older friends may have a more challenging time maintaining their body temperature than an adult pet.  A dog like me with a short coat will get cold faster than a husky or malamute who is built for snowy weather.

Accessorize!  Some of us benefit from stylish sweaters, beautiful dog booties, or chic coats.  Walking on snow and ice can be very uncomfortable, so please wipe off our paws when we come inside. There may be chunks of ice that stick to our fur and don’t feel good.

Speed it up! Most pets don’t like lingering  outside to take care of their, ahem, “business” when the temperature drops.  Want to do us a favor?  Shovel off a grassy area for us to go to the bathroom on.  Small pets can sink into snowdrifts, and some dogs will not want to eliminate outside in our normal area if it’s not protected from wind or snow.  Maybe there’s a different spot we can use where there’s less snow or some shelter (such as an overhang) to keep rain or snow from falling on us.

Avoid winter “convenience” products.  Our humans are grateful for salt to keep snow off the streets, but it can be harsh on our paws.  Licking salt off our paws can make us sick to our stomach, and ingesting large amounts of salt can even cause neurologic problems.  If you use salt on the driveway, make sure to wipe your pet’s paws off after you come inside (baby wipes or a wet washcloth will work great).

Moisturize your mutt!  Just like humans get dry, cracked hands in winter, our paws can get sore too.  One good option is to use a lotion made for cow udders (such as Bag Balm).  After drying paws, gently rub the balm in.

Avoid antifreeze!  Antifreeze is another no-no for critters. It has a sweet flavor so some pets want to try it, but it is deadly!  Keep an eye out for green or blue liquids on sidewalks or driveways, and keep us well away!

Winter can be a great time for both pets and people.  Use these tips to keep us having fun when it’s frosty!