We all knew it was bound to happen. We do live in the DC Metro Area and that means wintertime can bring some pretty cold days and harsh weather. The first part of this winter has been so mild that I think we were all silently hoping it would last. But the meteorologist are all using that dreaded “S” word (I know there are some snow lovers out there . . . I am just not one of them), so I thought it was a good time to remind you of ways to protect your pups during the colder months.
Buy Pet Safe Ice Melt – If you like to use something on your driveways and sidewalks to keep the ice from forming (and your rear from falling to the ground), opt for the products that are specially formulated to be non-toxic and will not hurt your pet’s sensitive paw pads when they step on it. Safe Paw Ice Melter is a common and well liked brand that you can find in most of our local pet supply stores, but don’t wait too long to stock up because they sell out fast (kinda like shovels at the hardware store).
Wipe Their Feet – When you do come in from a walk outside it is a best practice to pick up those little feet and clean them off with a towel or even better, wash them with a little warm water. This will remove any yucky stuff they could have walked through on your adventure outside and rid them of any snow clumps (that is the technical term, I promise) that got between their toes. If you plan on being outside for a longer period of time, it isn’t a bad idea to carry a small towel with you and occasionally clean off their feet.
Trim The Hair On Their Pads – You know how painful it feels to walk on rocks barefoot? Ouch!! I cringe just thinking about it. Well that is kinda the same feeling as getting a snow clump stuck between your dog’s pads. Many dogs have hair that grows between their pads & toes that will act as an ice magnet on those fun snowy walks. Keeping that hair cut short will help prevent that from happening. Not comfortable trimming this hair yourself, head over to your favorite groomer (wink, wink) and we will happily take care of this for you.
Apply Paw Pad Protection & Conditioners – Seems I am on a foot roll, so let’s round this out with how to protect those tootsie’s in the first place. There are some wonderful products that are made to act as a protective layer between your dog’s pads and the harsh elements he walks through on a daily basis. During the winter that would be snow and the salt all over the ground. Our friends over at Happy Hound in Lansdowne carry Natural Dog Company’s Paw Protection products and we love that this line is made from all organic and natural sources. And this is a great year round product because during the summer we worry about harsh sand at the beach and hot pavement. This company also makes a great Snout Soother and Wrinkle Balm for all you squishy face fans!
Properly Bathe & Condition – There is a big conspiracy (ok, maybe that is a harsh word) that your dog should not/does not need bathing in the winter and claims they bathing in the winter will dry out their skin. WRONG!!!! What causes the skin to become itchy and flaky is when you allow their natural oils to build up too much which then traps the dead skin from naturally shedding off. Just like you and I, our dogs need regular bathing to keep their skin and coat healthy. Just as important is making sure that when you do bathe that you finish with a good conditioner to help rehydrate that winter skin that is drying just like your’s and mine. So don’t skip the baths in the winter . . . your pup would probably really enjoy a nice warm bath and massage during these cold winter days. Don’t want to do it at home or not quit sure what you are doing? That’s ok . . . head over to our Self Serve Dog Wash and we will give you all the tools you need and show you how to do it.
Shorter Trips Outside – Just because your dog has a natural fur coat doesn’t mean that he is fully protected from the harsh weather. Dogs can suffer from frostbite too, especially on sensitive areas like ears and tips of tails. So take shorter trips outside to avoid overexposure to the elements that can harm them.
Watch Out For Antifreeze – Antifreeze is something we need to be very careful with this time of year. It is critical to keep our cars running smoothly but is highly toxic to both pets and children. It has a sweet flavor (so I’ve been told) and can look attractive with its bright blue color. Please make sure you store it in a high, safe location away from curious hands and paws. And quickly clean up any spills to avoid anyone from walking through it and licking it off of their paws.
Play More Inside – We don’t want our beloved pets to be bored and the shorter walks outside can lead to some boredom. So engage your dog in some fun games inside to burn off that extra energy and keep them happy (plus I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold afternoon than lost in a game of indoor fetch or playing some scent-finding games with my dog).
Monitor Food Intake & Weight – You know that “winter weight” we all dread? Well it could happen to your dog too if he is much less active in the winter but continues eating the same amount of food. That’s one reason why we say to play more inside, to keep their energy level up and to ward off extra pounds. Maybe cut back on the treats a little and if you are concerned that there will be a doggie revolt if you do, switch to smaller treats or even some fresh cut fruits or veggies. My dog loves anything that comes out of my fridge at home; especially apples, blueberries and cucumbers.
Get A Warm Bed – Who doesn’t like to snuggle up in a warm bed on a cold and drafty day? Think about it . . . your dog lays on the floor which can be a cold place in the winter. Treat him to a nice bed that he can retreat to for a good afternoon nap.
I hope this has given you a few ideas on how to keep your dog happy, safe and healthy as we head into the coldest months of the year here in the Northern Virginia Area. Let me know if you tried anything new and please send me photos of you and your dog having fun in the snow . . . I can never see enough dog photos!!