To help puppies and dogs stay healthy and happy throughout the new year, owners need to take careful consideration of the weather and the season. Each period carries its own joys and hazards that owners should consider.
Everyone here at NuVet is happy to give a few suggestions on how to help four-legged family members enjoy each season in the year.
In the cold, the most important consideration is the dog’s skin and toes. Avoid dry skin by not bathing the animal too frequently through cold periods. It may also be a good idea to dress him in sweaters or coats to help maintain warmth and avoid having the skin dry out.
Keeping the home filled with dry, warm air can be damaging to skin, especially when repeatedly coming in from the cold. Additionally, trim the hair on long-haired dogs to avoid clinging ice crystals. Do not cut the hair too short, however, as it is critical to keeping the dog warm.
Protecting Their Paws
Protect paws by either having the dog wear booties or washing out paws after a romp outside. This can minimize the ice and burning chemicals that can be lodged between toes and cause sensitivities. Massaging petroleum jelly or a waxy substance known as Musher’s Secret onto paws before venturing outdoors can also help minimize any sensitivities to paws.
Remember to never leave dogs locked in a car, even for just a minute. If it is too cold for humans, it is probably too cold for dogs as well. If there is concern about dogs getting adequate exercise through the coldest months, consider looking into indoor training classes to help the animal stay active and maybe make some friends.
When the dog is taken outside, keep them as active as possible, which will help them stay warm as well. If trying to house train a new puppy, consider paper training the youngster until it begins to thaw outside to avoid unnecessary frustration.
For dogs that love playing outside regardless of the weather, remember to increase food supply and water in the winter, as they will burn more calories working to stay warm while playing. Also watch for any chemical spills, such as antifreeze, which is dangerous to dogs.
One of the biggest hazards for dogs, as the weather begins to warm, is the various projects their owners have going on around the home. Any spring cleaning chemicals should be kept out of reach of curious pups.
Similarly, watch which fertilizers are used in gardens that dogs have access to. Remember that certain plants themselves, such as Easter lilies, can be hazardous. As the bugs come outside, make sure that the dog is up to date on all medications and vaccinations.
If you’re tempted to throw open the windows to welcome the warm weather, make sure that it is not possible for small dogs to get through the opening and make the leap. Also, do not allow dogs to ride with their heads out the car window. Although Fido looks adorable with his head out the window, it can be very dangerous if debris should come flying.
Primarily, make sure that canines have plenty of access to water and shade when spending time outside, but no access to party foods or alcoholic beverages. When taking dogs near water, even if it is just a backyard pool, never leave them unsupervised and make sure they wear a life vest when on a boat.
Many owners will trim their dogs’ hair to help them stay cooler. This is fine to a degree, but do not cut the hair too short. It not only keeps the animal warm in winter, it also helps avoid overheating.
Try to confine walks to the cooler parts of the day, as hot asphalt can also burn paws. Know the warning signs of a dog overheating, such as labored breathing, drooling, and weakness to help them avoid injury. Never leave a dog in a parked car, as tragedy can strike in minutes.
Rodents can be a concern in the autumn for animals and humans. If spraying to keep pests out of a home, keep dogs away. Also, know the types of snakes in the area. Snakes tend to be the most temperamental as they prepare to hibernate in the fall. This makes Autumn the easiest time for a curious canine to get into trouble.
Similarly, watch out for mushrooms growing in the area. Some mushrooms can be extremely harmful to canine health if ingested.
Keep animals away from certain human products, such as glue sticks for back to school and coolants used to prepare cars for winter. As always, being attentive to the animal is key. Being aware of what is left lying around can be best protection against tragic accidents.
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