As a new year rises, in many places temperatures are falling. There is no shortage on the amount of dog winter care tips circulating online, but there are four things dog parents may not have considered. Fidose of Reality likes to take the roads less traveled and provide information that isn’t widely circulated. With this in mind, here are five things dog moms and dog dads should be doing to keep dogs safe all winter long:
Most pet parents know about the dangers of antifreeze and that dogs (and cats), in general, find it appealing due to its sweetness. Clean up any pooling liquid and keep dogs from any standing liquid they may discover on walks. I recently saw a guy near the park where I walk Dexter putting antifreeze into his car radiator. Simple enough, but he then emptied the small amount left to the side of the car onto the ground. I politely asked this gentleman not to do that, and I explained the dangers of doing so to pets. He actually thanked me and said he learned something.
I’ve since learned that antifreeze and engine coolant manufactured in the United States will contain a bitter flavoring agent to prevent poisoning. The website DVM360.com reports, “Although legislation has been passed in several states, the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) and the Humane Society Legislative Fund jointly announced Dec. 13 that the industry would now voluntarily add the flavoring agent to products for sale on the consumer market in all 50 states.” Hallejuah to this!
Pam cooking spray is composed of canola oil, lecithin and propellent. I would not personally use this on my dog. Long-haired breeds and many dogs in general, tend to get tufts of snowballs that cling to their fur in the winter months. Snow tends to accumulate and harden on a dog’s feet, causing a dog’s paw pads to have discomfort and pain. It is a myth that a dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather. Though a dog’s pads contain much fatty tissue that does not freeze as easily as other tissues, protection against scuffing, scraping, cutting, and ice damage is crucial in winter months. Ice cubes and “snowballing” may occur in the delicate areas between toes and pads. Protective booties or a product like Musher’s Secret, which is used on sledding dogs, can help ease extreme conditions on sensitive pads.
Recently I took my dog to the park to romp in the snow and he was covered on his legs and underbelly despite having a comfortable and warm jacket donning his coat. We are now looking into snowsuits for dogs. I want Dexter to be comfortable, warm, and be able to stay outside and romp in the snow without the freeze and discomfort of snowballs stuck to him like pins on a pin cushion.
Do not, repeat: Do not leave your dog in a car unattended. Cars act like a refrigerator in the winter months and not only that, but a dog alone in a car is subject to theft. I read and research a lot in the dog world and news related to dogs, and I have read more stories about dog theft in the last 30 days than ever before. Please do not think “five minutes” is okay while running into a store or just for a quick “pit stop to see a friend.” From California to Maine, dogs are going missing and being stolen from cars. Worse yet, leaving a dog tied to a pole outside of a store while you run in is like asking for sharks not to bite a rump roast while you tap dance across town.
Fleas and Ticks Can Live Inside
Winter months do not eradicate fleas and ticks. In fact, last winter a hiking friend of mine found two ticks on her dog in February. Although fleas may not survive in brutal winter temperatures outside, the warmth of home means fleas gravitate towards indoor comfort where they can affect pets. I am a fan of non-chemical ways to prevent nasty ticks and fleas. Here are three ways to prevent fleas and ticks.
Canine Clothing Myths Dispelled
Does your dog actually need a winter coat? Doesn’t his or her fur keep them warm enough? Well, yes and no. I wrote about the topic of dog winter coats for Dogster magazine, and the research I found was very informative. You can read the entire article on Dogster magazine about winter coats for dogs here, but I treat my dog as I would myself: Would I go outside without a coat when the thermometer says 5 degrees? Though not all dogs need a coat or sweater to keep them warm when venturing outside, shorter-haired breeds, senior dogs, puppies, and dogs with medical conditions do benefit from the additional warmth.
So what are you doing to keep your dog safe and protected from the winter months? Bark at me below.