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Care Tips for Dogs in the Snow

Friday, 18 January 2013  |  Kate


Snow days are great fun for you and your dog but there are several things that dog owners (and cat owners too) should keep in mind so you both can stay safe and avoid the hazards you might not even know are there.

Antifreeze

Antifreeze is one of those products that can be found in most houses, and because of this it is also one of the most common causes of poisoning in dogs and cats. If you use antifreeze in your toilets it can be a prime source for dogs, but most commonly it is ingested by pets lapping up the runoff from car radiators that pool on the ground.

What makes antifreeze lethal is the toxin ethylene glycol and it only takes a small amount to be fatal for your dog. A medium sized dog needs fewer than three ounces (88ml) to be poisoned which then affects the liver, brain and kidneys. Because of its sweet taste dogs are capable of ingesting a lot of it before its nasty aftertaste takes effect.

Common signs and symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in cats and dogs:
  • Intoxication (drunken behaviour)
  • Seizures/shaking/tremors/convulsions
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Fainting/coma
  • Diarrhoea/excessive urination
  • Vomiting
If you suspect your dog or cat has antifreeze poisoning get them to the vet immediately. Antifreeze poisoning can be avoided by taking steps to make sure your dog doesn't come into contact with antifreeze in and around the house.

Keep antifreeze tightly sealed and out of reach of pets where they can't get at it. Thoroughly clean up all spillages (if and when they occur) and properly recycle the containers. Don't let your pets near areas where antifreeze might be spilled or leaked when you're not around.

Salt on the Roads

The salt used to melt the ice and snow on our roads can be hazardous to your dog because it's acidic and can cause considerable irritation to your dog's paws. The salt can cause dry skin and it may also make your dog sick if they lick it off their paws.

Common salts used to melt ice are sodium chloride and calcium chloride. These aren't a problem for those of us that wear shoes but it can be damaging to your dog's paws. A common way to avoid this is to get your dog with some Pawz dog boots.

Keeping Short Haired Dogs Warm

Snow Dogs Advice My Itchy Dog BlogSome breeds of dog like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are adapted extremely well for the cold seasons. A lot of other dogs however don't do so well in the cold but there are some things you can do.

A popular choice is to invest in a good dog jacket which can keep your dog warm and secure during walks in the winter. With a warm dog coat and Pawz boots you can keep your dog warm and happy while you're out and about.

Cleaning Your Dog in the winter

To my mind there are few things more whimsical than only being able to see your dog in the snow by his tail raised aloft. But snow is cold and should be kept outside, so make sure to wash off and dry your dog's paws when they come in. This will prevent any salt or snow from building up between their toes and becoming uncomfortable.

Massage in a soothing calendula balm on your dog's paws. Brush any snow off their coat too and have a look to see if there is snow anywhere else.

Entertaining Your Dog Inside

The long Winter months can be very dull for dogs, they're active creatures as we all know and love to get some exercise but during the cold months most dogs would rather be warm inside. Try to come up with some fun games for you and your dog to play.

Kati Lea, an Itchy Dog customer, suggests: "I taught mine to 'tidy up' she loves going round [the] house looking for stuff to put in her toy box or basket. A ball pool too. Use a small puppy playpen or my older dog has hers in her dogbag tent... hide their kibble treats underneath balls to find."

Hidden Hazards

  • Salt - As mentioned above the chemical salts used to deice the roads and pavements can be damaging to your dog's paws.

  • Antifreeze - Also stated above, antifreeze poses a significant danger to your dog and can kill, make sure they can't get any.

  • Heating/Fire Places - Remember burning your hands on a radiator as a kid? Still do it occasionally? Your dog is no different, he might think his coat makes him invulnerable but burns can happen to anyone so be extra careful. Even more so around open fire places as your dog could risk serious burns if left unsupervised.

  • Water - Even during the winter all pets need access to water to stay hydrated, just make sure to check that it's not frozen over.