Many people prep themselves, their houses and even their cars for the winter, but the dog? Predictions are for a brutal winter, so dog owners should take a few extra precautions to keep their canine friends safe and sound.
“Most of it is kind of common sense,” Marcy Milkowski, veterinarian at Chicago’s VCA Lake Shore Animal Hospital, says. “If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for your dog.” It’s crucial to keep the house at a warm temperature during the day when the owners are at school and work and she even suggests a humidifier. Bundling up during walks is also a good idea, especially for short-haired dogs, and long-haired dogs need a jacket or sweater too in some cases. There are many stylish designs out there for the fashion-friendly dog, but owners should remember to go for function over form and choose the clothes that will keep their dog the warmest.
Tim England, veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center of Chicago, says something he often sees around the holiday season is dogs that become sick from treats like chocolate, which is very unhealthy for canines. Though relatives might want to sneak a chocolate to the dog under the table, owners should advise against it. Presents under the Christmas tree pose another holiday danger, England pointed out, as dogs might get into the presents or wrapping paper and become sick from that.
Besides just bundling up and not staying out too long on walks, owners should also be aware of the salt on the ground during walks. It’s very common to see that salt that is put on the ground to melt the snow gets into the dog’s paws and causes irritation.
Milowski says that owners during the winter often bring their dogs to the vet because they’re limping and the owner thinks the dog has a twisted ankle, but it’s really just irritated by the salt in its paws. For this reason, wipe your dog’s paws thoroughly after coming into the house after a walk. Owners should also wipe their dog’s paws if they have any suspicion that they have come in contact with antifreeze on a walk or in the household. The dog may lick the antifreeze of off their paws. Antifreeze poisoning can make a dog extremely sick, so it is important to watch out for that.
When the winter’s over, there are still some precautions to think about. “One of the things we see is people and dogs get lazy in the wintertime, so they tend to get out of shape, just like we do,” England says. Their owners may want to go do all of the activities they did with their dogs in the previous summer in the springtime. Because the dogs become out of shape and try to be as active as before, he sees dogs with injuries such as ruptured ligaments in their legs and inflammation of the muscles. Either try to keep your dog in shape during the winter or take it slow when starting to do all of your active springtime activities.