The Importance of Pampering Your Pooch in the Winter Time

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The approaching frigid temperatures can pose serious risk to our furbabies, so it’s important to take proper care to protect them. Here are some tips for making the season a healthier one for your pooch, and even for you, too.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside. With colder temperatures, comes additional stress to your pet’s system. These temperatures can wreak particular havoc on a pet who may already have a compromised immune system, due to age, disease, etc. Frostbite and hypothermia are two of the most common conditions of the season. Frostbite occurs when the body becomes so cold that the blood moves to the core leaving extremities exposed to tissue damage. The symptoms of frostbite include, gray pale, hard or cold skin. Protect dogs, particularly ones with thinner coats or shorter hair – like Chihuahuas – with a proper coat. It’s important to select a coat that fits your climate needs. If you’re in an area that comes with heavy winter precipitation, you’ll want to make sure that the coat has a waterproof, wicking fabric. If you’re in an area where frigid temperatures are a concern, the fabric will need to be more insulating. Don’t forget the paws! You wouldn’t go outside in bare feet, and your pooch shouldn’t either. A frozen ground, or a salted area, can result in cracked or toxic pads. Consider using booties to protect the paws.

And don’t forget to provide proper care for your pup indoors, too. If your windows or doors are letting in a lot of air, this constant draft can quickly lower your dog’s body temperature. Take time to weatherstrip your windows and doors, and create a warm, cozy spot for your furry friend’s naps if you haven’t already.

Flu, is for dogs too. By now, you’ve probably remembered to protect yourself from this winter’s flu season, but did you remember to protect your loved one? If your canine friend is at a higher risk for the disease, for example, being around other pets at say a boarding facility, you will want to consider protecting them. Like the human variation, the flu vaccine does not prevent getting the disease, but it does diminish the seriousness and length of the infection, as well as reduces the risk of spreading. The American Veterinary Medical Association has identified two strains in the United States, H3N8 and H3N2, and it has been identified in 40 states. If your pooch has a persistent cough, lasting 10 to 21 days that does not clear with proper medication, seek medical attention.

Poisons, in the unexpected. With the winter season comes the use of one of the most toxic chemicals for our dogs, antifreeze. Keep your dog away from any potential leaks in the garage or driveway, as one little taste can prove fatal. It’s also a good time to consider that your pet will be spending more time indoors, and likely be more restless. This can lead to curiosity and the discovery of other common toxic household items. According to American Humane, the most surprising pet poisons are over-the-counter medications, fabric softener sheets, batteries, sugar free gum and mints, and grapes and raisins. Keep any of these items properly secured on high shelves, and where possible, avoid having them in your home.

Healthy diet, and exercise too. Just as their human owners, most dogs become more sedentary in the cold winter months. It’s important during these months to watch your dog’s weight. If they are becoming heavier, you may need to adjust their food volume. Most pet owners also think that dehydration isn’t a factor in the winter, this isn’t true. Make sure your dog is getting enough to drink. It’s also important to get out, and get in, exercise with your pooch. Head outside on mild days,  and when it’s too cold consider an indoor activity that gets you both moving.

Remember, the winter months can prove a challenge to stay healthy for us and for our dogs. Following these steps will prevent some of the season’s more serious health risks. The Humane Society, also has a list of recommended tips for you to follow for the season. Check them out here.