Every year stories abound of dogs falling through ice and both dog and owner dying because the owner tried to save him. Every year, the veterinary hospitals receive an increased number of animals injured with frostbite, hypothermia, or other cold-related ailments. And every year, animal cruelty officers are sent to investigate owners who don’t take care of their dogs properly during the winter months.
No matter whether your dog is better suited for the indoors or outdoors, special care is always needed for every dog during the cold weather months. Check out the simple but extensive checklist below.
*Give outdoor dogs shelter with straw (not hay) or a dog bed. Do not use heaters unless they are approved for animals. Consider a heated mat for animals which can be placed under a blanket or dog bed.
*Consider a dog sweater and booties for small dogs or dogs which are sensitive to the cold.
*Outside dogs need more food because they burn more calories in order to keep warm. Indoor dogs who get less activity in winter months may need less food in winter.
*Always bring your dog indoors for extreme weather. Even a hearty winter dog breed like the Husky may not be able to handle an extreme ice storm or blizzard.
*Keep puppies and older dogs indoors.
*Make sure dogs always have fresh water with no ice. Get a special heating dish or give fresh water frequently.
*Check your dog’s ears, tail, and feet for frostbite.
*Check your dog’s feet for ice. Ice balls can form, especially if your dog has long hair around their feet. Trimming the long hair may help. Remove ice with a warm washcloth. Also check their feet for cuts.
*Walking dogs on sidewalks melted with salt is okay but make sure you rinse their feet off with warm water when you get home.
*When going for walks, keep your dog on a leash at all times. Dogs can get lost in the snow because all the scent markers have been covered. Keeping them on a leash will also keep them from running over ice and falling through into a body of water.
*Be careful of ponds and other bodies of water. If your dog falls in the water, call for help. Do not go after him yourself.
*Make sure your dog is completely dry after grooming before putting them outside.
*Beware of antifreeze from cars. Antifreeze is tasty to dogs but deadly.
*If you travel with your dog, don’t leave him alone in the car. In summer months where your car becomes an oven, the opposite occurs in winter where your car becomes a refrigerator.