October 14, 2010
Last month, we focused on tackling your dog’s back to school blues. Now, for many pet owners across the country, we have another change to contend with: the cold weather. We’ve compiled a quick guide to help you prepare for the chilly days ahead. Whether it is your dog’s first winter or his tenth, we recommend taking the following steps to ensure a happy and healthy season.
The first step is especially key for new pet owners – know your breed. A number of breeds are particularly well-suited to cold weather, including Huskies, Chow Chows, Saint Bernards, Akitas, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. These dogs have thick coats that protect them from the cold, and they are often just as content running around outside in January as they are in July.
Other breeds with short hair, like Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and Whippets, or no hair at all, like Chinese Cresteds, are more susceptible to the cold weather. Sweaters and coats, if they tolerate them, will help keep these breeds warm during winter walks.
The next step is protect your dog’s paws. A dog’s paws are very sensitive to the salt used in walkways and roads during the winter. Dogster reports that “prolonged contact with de-icers can lead to chemical burns on paws.” Salt is also harmful if ingested, which may happen if you dog licks her paws after a walk. Furthermore, dogs can also slip on the ice and injure themselves just like their owners!
Cloth dog booties are a great way to protect your dog’s paws and prevent slipping, yet not all dogs will tolerate them. In that case, another option is a paw wax like Musher’s Secret. Applied to the paw pads before each walk, the wax will protect against the harmful salt. You may also want to keep a bowl of warm water by the door to wash your dog’s paws and your own shoes before stepping back inside after a walk.
For dog owners who use an “in-ground” fence system, such as a DogWatch® Hidden Fence, the next step to prepare for cold weather is a winter fence checkup. For example, it is important to make sure driveway and walkway cuts are sealed and that no wire is exposed that might be damaged by snow plows or shovels. Also, if you have had a fall yard clean-up or aeration, check your transmitter to make sure the wire has not been accidentally cut. If you have questions about your DogWatch system, check the videos in the Customer Service section of the website or contact your local DogWatch Dealer. Also, if you do not have a hidden fence but are looking to install one soon, think about scheduling an appointment in the fall, before the ground freezes.