Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dog Days of Winter Survival Tips

December has arrived and the winter weather is finally upon us.  Time for Christmas shopping (well at least for the procrastinators like me), pretty lights, trimming the tree, sipping hot chocolate by the fire AND bundling up, snow, ice, traffic, ugh!  With all the holiday hustle and bustle, let's not forget about the safety of our four legged friends!  Here are some tips for a safe winter for your babies!

#1 - Limit outside time during frigid temperatures.  I don't know if your dog is anything like my dog Conner, but he looooves the snow!  As soon as we get that powdery white stuff on the ground, he's ready to play! But, once the temp dips below freezing, it is not safe for pets to be outside for any length of time.  Mostly indoor pets need time to adapt to cold temperatures.  Take short 10-15 minute outside breaks several times through out the day, keep a sharp eye on your dog, do not hesitate to put your dog in a cozy sweater or coat for outside time, especially for smaller dogs who are even more susceptible to cold weather.  If you dog will tolerate them, use dog booties to protect their paws.

#2 - Wipe your paws!  Try to avoid sidewalks and streets coated with salt and ice melt chemicals.  Rock salt contains sodium chloride or potassium chloride, which can heat up to 175 degrees when exposed to water, ice and low temperatures.  So, when your dog steps in this stuff, he (or she) literally feels a burn and if the salt is not washed off his poor feet, it will continue burning, causing skin ulcers that can become infected.  When you come back inside, make sure to wipe your dogs paws thoroughly with a warm, damp cloth.  They may pick up these chemicals on their paws and not only can they irritate their paw pads, but they can ingest theme by licking their paws which can be very toxic.

#3 - Watch out for that ice!  Have you ever walked outside on a cold winters morning and then CRASH, next thing you knew you were looking up at the sky (and looking around to see if anyone saw you fall)?  If you have ice on your sidewalks, porch and driveways I recommend that you use a great product called Safe Paw Ice Melt.  It is environmentally friendly, safe for children and pets, and still works great at melting ice.

#4 - Holy Ice Balls Batman!  What dog doesn't love to play ball, but not many like ice balls.  For the longer haired dogs, I recommend that you trim the excess fur around their paws and toes to help prevent those nasty ice balls from forming between their toe pads.  This is very painful and uncomfortable.  You can also add a little salmon oil to their paws to help keep ice balls from sticking and it is safe for them to lick off later.

#5 - To Freeze or Anti Freeze - there is no question.  I'm sure everyone knows the bright green leakage from automobiles is extremely attractive and deadly to dogs.  Keep containers of anti freeze tightly closed and stored out of reach from pets.  If you spill anti freeze make sure it is thoroughly cleaned up.  Dispose of anti freeze containers properly.  Do not allow your dog to wander unattended where there is access to anti freeze (roads, garages, driveways).  Call your vet immediately if you think your dog has ingested anti freeze.  Also, check out  this link for first aid, signs and symptoms and more information on anti freeze poisoning.

#6 - Leash Law is in effect.  If your going on a walk, keep 'em on the leash.  Dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost in snow, ice and especially during snow storms.  More dogs are lost in the winter than any other season so make sure they always wear ID tags.  Also, avoid rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes.  Dogs are drawn to these areas which can be deceiving and dangerous.  They make look frozen, but many times are not and the frigid cold water can cause hypothermia just as in humans.

#7 - Frost Bites!  Did you know dogs can get frost bite too?  A dogs ears, paws and tail are most susceptible.   Again, limit prolonged exposure to cold temps.  For more information and first aid check out the information here at PetMD.

This can be the most wonderful time of the year, or the worst.  Use common sense and keep these winter tips in mind this season.  Now, raise your hot chocolate with me and cheers,  here's to a safe, warm and fun winter season - Woof!

Snow and Snowflakes fun facts and trivia

  • The world's largest snowflake recorded fell at Fort Keogh, Montana on January 28, 1887. It was reported to be 38 cm wide and 20 cm thick.
  • Snowflakes are ice crystals formed into different patterns.
  • Snowflakes has many different forms, some snowflake researchers use as many as 35 shapes to identify them. The most used snowflake forms are: plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles,spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms.
  • A single snowstorm can drop 40 million tons of snow, carrying the energy equivalent to 120 atom bombs.
  • Mt Killimanjaro in Tanzania is the only permanent snowcap within sight of the equator.
  • At one point, Denver Colorado was buried under 21.3 inches of snow, 19.4 inches which fell in 24 hours.  The heavy wet snow snapped trees and wires causing seven million dollars worth of damage.

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."

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