Canuck Canines Need Winter-Proofing Care.
There’s no way to avoid a Canadian winter and just as you need to prepare yourself, your car and your home for the return of cold weather, it’s important to prepare your pet as well.
One of the number one dangers for dogs in the winter is ingesting anti-freeze, which tastes good to pups but can be fatal. Dogs are exposed to it from drips from the radiators of cars in the garage and driveway and from puddles on the streets.
Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which can cause major kidney damage, leading to death. Signs of antifreeze poisoning can include vomiting, an increase in thirst and urination, lethargy, sores on the inside of your dog’s mouth.
It’s important to wipe off your dog’s paws when you return from a walk just in case it stepped in anti-freeze without your knowledge. If you suspect your dog has ingested anti-freeze, visit your vet immediately as even small quantities can lead to kidney damage down the road.
Wiping a dog’s paws after a walk also helps clear away any road salt or other ice melting substances that might be caught in the crevasses of your dog’s paws, causing potential sores and tenderness. It also helps avoid the paw pads from drying out and cracking.
Another important reason to clean your dog’s paws is this also eliminates another potential health hazard that could occur if your dog cleans the road salt from its own paws. Road salt is made from chloride combined with sodium, calcium, magnesium or potassium, and may also contain ferrocyanide salts, none of which are usually fatal to pets but should still be avoided if possible.
One way of preventing anti-freeze or road salt from getting on your dog’s paws is to invest in a pair of pet boots, which can also help avoid frostbite or pad damage. There are also balms and even waxes that can be used to protect paws from winter’s wrath.
Pet clothing like dog boots aren’t just a trendy fashion accessories for your canine companion. Jackets and sweaters can help protect tiny or ill dogs, as well as puppies, from the cold.
And just like it is dangerous to leave your dog in a car during the summer, the same can be said during periods of extreme cold. A sealed car can act like a refrigerator and your dog is at risk of freezing to death if left inside.
For outdoor dogs, it’s important to ensure they have a dry, draft-proof doghouse made of appropriate weatherproofed materials with a door facing away from the direction of strong winds, preferably into a sheltered surrounding.
The doghouse should be elevated off the ground, insulated and have a door flap to keep as much of the cold, rain and wind away as possible. Instead of a stuffed dog bed, try using wood shavings or straw inside it.
Most importantly, ensure your dog has an adequate supply of water and check it often to make sure it isn’t frozen. Most veterinarian and pet supply stores recommend a ceramic or plastic bowl, not metal as there is a risk your dog’s tongue could get stuck to the side of it.
Winter can be a lot of fun for both you and your pet but basic safety strategies need to be followed. An important rule of thumb to remember is that if it is too cold for you to be outside, it’s too cold for your pet as well.