Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Winter Tips

It's February in Chicago, and it's finally winter.  The colder months bring with them new concerns for your pet, so here are some tips to get you through:

  • The rock salt used on sidewalks and roads has a lot of chemicals in it that are really hard on your pet's feet.  Boots or paw wax can provide a barrier between those more-sensitive-than-they-look footpads and the salt, or you can use a warm, damp washcloth to wipe off your pet's footpads after a walk.  You may also consider using pet friendly salt on your own property.

  • Just because your dog has a fur coat, doesn't mean she doesn't get cold.  If you're leaving your dog in the car, make sure your dog is going to stay warm enough--with a coat or a blanket to cuddle up in, whatever.  If it's particularly cold and you can't leave your dog at home, a warm (not too hot) water bottle under a blanket is a good option--as long as she isn't a chewer.

  • If your dog is a hardy outdoor type, make sure you're aware of how cold is too cold for her, and have a backup place they can hang out when the temperature dips dramatically.

  • Even if your dog isn't the hardy outdoor type (especially if she isn't), you might consider taking a couple more short walks instead of one or two longer ones.  (And maybe, if she's on the really short side, bring a shovel to clear a potty spot off.  For some dogs, this can be the difference between a dog asking to go out and having an accident.  Yes, I did have that dog.)

  • Older dogs and those with altered mobility can stiffen up in the cold, too.  Put on a movie and loosen up tight muscles with a bit of massage.  (Feel for the spots on your dog's body that are warmer.)  Massage is relaxing for both of you, and a great bonding experience.

With few exceptions, if you're cold and miserable, your dog is, too.  Hopefully, these tips will help you minimize the misery, so you can maximize the fun stuff (you know, snuffling snow and chasing snowballs).  Just, you know, avoid the yellow bits.

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