It’s been a cold and wet winter this year, and we may still have a few more months of it. Follow these tips to make sure your four legged friends stay warm and safe until springtime comes.
Not just for show, sweaters and/or raincoats can offer protection and warmth from the elements. Especially for you night time dog walkers, some of them even have reflective borders or battery-powered lights so your pet can be seen in the dark.
If you plan to take your pet to the snow, remember that paw protection is important. Snow and ice can freeze the hair between the toes, causing pain and lameness. Booties can be used to prevent this, but have your pet try them out at home first to make sure they fit comfortably.
Exercise in the cold/dark/rain is not fun for some of us, but we still need to get our dogs outside. Even for older dogs who may have arthritis, it’s important to keep them moving. Consider three shorter walks per day instead of one long one. Even inside you can keep your pets moving. Putting kibble in a treat-dispensing toy can keep pets busy and challenged, as well as keep you entertained by watching them.
Weight management/portion reduction is important in the winter time, since activity is usually lower. Talk to your veterinarian about a healthy weight and food portion for your pet. Avoid table scraps and foods that can be toxic to dogs: chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions and garlic. Watch out for sugar-free foods- they can contain xylitol which causes liver failure in dogs.
As the weather warms up and you start to get out more, remember to return slowly to normal activity. We see a lot of sports injuries in the spring. If your pet has had a lazy winter, start with short leash walks only, then slowly get back to longer walks, then light jogging, etc. If you notice limping after a walk or a run, go back to shorter walks. If it doesn’t get better right away, bring your pet in for a complete physical exam with our veterinarian to make sure everything is ok.