Winter Safety Tips For Your Dog

That time of the year when your “leaving the house” check-list goes…

  • Coat   √
  • Scarf   √
  • Hat   √
  • Gloves   √

The winter months can be just as hard on your pets as it can be on you. The Animal Hospital of Waynesville want to keep your dog warm and safe during the winter months. Here are some tips to help you and your pet though the cold months ahead.

Baby Its Cold Outside
  • Freezing weather can cause dogs to suffer from hypothermia and/or frostbite.
  • Insulation such as straw and blankets are a good way to help a dog keep in body heat. Be careful using cedar shavings as they can be irritating to some dog’s skin.
  • Dogs that live outside during cold weather may need additional calories to help sustain body temperature. Please check with your veterinarian before feeding your dog more.
  • Make sure that any water left outside does not freeze. Dogs are not able to get enough water by licking ice.
  • NEVER leave your dog alone inside a vehicle during cold weather. A vehicle can act like a refrigerator causing your dog to freeze to death.
  • Antifreeze – Ethylene glycol is a chemical found in radiator fluid. Ethylene glycol is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, and it only takes a small amount to reach the lethal dose. Less than one ounce can cause death in a 10 pound animal.
    In the early stages of toxicity, where the antifreeze has been consumed within twelve hours, you will often see signs that mimic intoxication. Animals will appear “drunk” and are often walking unsteadily, vomiting, having muscle tremors, or feeling depressed. Peak absorption occurs very quickly in cats at just one hour and 3-6 hours in dogs. Between 12 and 24 hours, clinical signs include seizures or coma. You may note some temporary improvement in dogs during this time. However, after 12-24 hours in cats and 24-72 hours in dogs, acute renal failure occurs. You will see severe depression, changes in urination, and ulcers in the mouth with increased saliva. Death is very common at this point, especially without intervention.
    Treatment includes hospitalization with intravenous fluids and medications to help support kidney function. It can take several days of hospitalization before a pet is able to go home, and the kidney damage can be permanent.

Oh the weather outside is frightful…But the fire is so delightful

Cold weather can make arthritis harder on senior dogs even for those that stay mostly inside. If you notice that they are having a harder time getting up and down, reluctant to use steps or if they seem to be hurting, contact your veterinarian to see if and how medications may help reduce pain.

  • Try to bathe your dog as little as possible. Excessive bathing can remove essential body and hair oils. Removal of these oils can increase the likelihood of your dog developing dry, flaky skin. If your dogs need a little extra bathing during the cold months ask your veterinarian to recommend a shampoo that adds moisture back to your dog’s coat.
  • When bringing your dog in from the snowy cold make sure to towel dry them to prevent itchy skin. This also helps to remove ice balls, salt crystals, and snow off of long-haired dogs.
  • Most dogs enjoy a nice cozy bed or blanket of their own to snuggle up in.
  • Cold weather is a perfect time to enroll your dog in some type of indoor exercise/training class.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

  • There are many things that can cause pain to your dog’s paws. Snow, salt, and chemical de-icers can hurt their paws. Some ways to protect their paws is by using canine booties, disposable latex booties, or Musher’s Secret (a waxy substance that is applied to the pads).
  • Be careful when walking on roads or sidewalks where de-icers have been used. Some can be toxic if indigested (dog licks their paws).
  • You may need to shorten your outside exercising if you notice your dog becomes winded or has a hard time walking due to slick conditions or snow accumulation.
  • Pay extra attention to your dog when you are around frozen ponds or lakes. Dogs don’t know how thin ice is, and could potentially fall in. Once in the water they have a hard time getting back out onto the ice. Hypothermia can then become a real threat real fast.

One very important thing to be mindful of this winter is antifreeze. Antifreeze is VERY toxic to dogs. Research shows that antifreeze has a sweet flavor and that most all dogs will lap it up pretty quickly. It can only take a few licks to be fatal. Sometimes dogs can be exposed by licking their paws after walking through spilled Antifreeze. If you suspect that your dog has come into contact with Antifreeze please call your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Even though the weather can be bone chilling at times, this is a wonderful time to spend some extra one on one time with your dogs. Take this time to enjoy snuggling by the fire with your beloved dog.