Well, that wonderful season is nearly upon us once again, and it is worth spending a little time now making sure you are ready for the cold weather, the ice and the snow. With the terrible snow that the US has been experiencing this last week, it has been a topic amongst dog owners I speak with on how to deal with the things that winter throws upon us dog owners.
Well this is not an exhaustive list, but contains a few pointers to help keep you and your best friend happy.
Check your dog’s paws daily.
Check your dog’s pads when you come back from a walk. Look for any sores or cuts or cracks that might need attention
Clean in between the toes.
Checking the area between the toes is a must in winter, as ice, grit and dirt can become lodged there and irritate and chafe the soft skin. Clean with plain water and dry thoroughly.
Trim long nails.
Walking in snow is difficult for dogs with long nails, they force the paw pads to splay out and ice quickly gathers here making it very painful to walk. The nails should be short, but not too short either, so keep them trimmed to a length where you don't hear them clicking on the floor when they walk, and if you are not comfortable doing this, book yourself an appointment at the groomers and let them show you how to do it.
Trim foot hair.
Too much hair on your dog's feet can encourage ice to build up or snow to clump on their feet, to stop this happening, trim the excess hair from their pads and between their toes, but don't cut it all off, they still need hair to insulate them from the cold.
Pamper your pooch.
If the elements are taking their toll on your dog's pads, they can crack and become tender and sore. You can protect their feet before going out by applying vaseline or paw wax, and after a walk, there are plenty of products you can use, either store bought, or homemade, even just using something from the kitchen, a camomile teabag (soaked) or olive oil. I have aloe plants on the kitchen windowsill, and these are particularly soothing, if they don't lick it off. Just make sure whatever you massage into their feet, it is edible and safe. Dog's love a foot massage.
The frozen ground in winter is much harder to walk on and it is advisable to not go over the top on exercise, as the hard ground jolts your dogs legs and joints, and they become less effective as shock absorbers. Just be careful not to do too much.
Anti-freeze, salt, and gritting products all are harmful to your dog if ingested, and licking feet is a popular pastime for many dogs, so try not to walk over any surface that has been treated with these products, if unavoidable, make sure to wash your dog's feet with warm water.
These boots were made for walking
Well, mine all hate boots, but in some countries it is worth investing in a pair, you can get them fitted or find a decent pair online with the insructions for measuring correctly your dog's feet. Some dogs manage just fine without them, as do mine
Dangers under the snow.
Beware of hidden dangers lying the surface of the snow, your dog is much more at risk of stepping onto broken glass or other sharp objects. Take care where you walk your dog, and tak ethe relatively mild time now to clear your garden before the snow arrives.
Most of all, have fun in the winter with your dog, just be aware and be careful.