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Weatherproof Your Dog
Remember to Keep Your Dog Winter-Safe
Snow, snow and more snow here in New York City - we are breaking records and the dogs are loving it. I have never seen so many dogs frolicking in the snow, but snow and bitter cold require special care that cannot be ignored.
Note: - In New York City a law just went into effect (January, 2011) to limit the amount of time a dog can be chained outdoors. Remember, even if your long-haired dog can handle cold weather - being chained for long periods of time will limit movement and exercise.
Below are a few tips to make sure your pup is having big-time fun, but not being harmed in the process. Prevention is always the best medicine.
Extra Calories - Your dogs may need a few extra calories at this time in order to stay warm especially if they are spending a lot of time playing outside.
Hypothermia - If your dog has heavy fur she can probably handle any kind of cold weather as long as she is receiving a proper diet. But an elderly dog, even with long hair would likely need a sweater or coat of some kind if temperatures are below freezing. Short-haired dogs would also need protective covering.
If your dog's body temperature falls below 101 degrees, she'll show signs of weakness, lethargy and start shivering. Take her indoors and wrap in a dry, warm blanket. But if she doesn't improve in 30 minutes - you need to seek immediate treatment.
Antifreeze - Antifreeze is a concern because dogs are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of ethylene gycol. A small amount can be fatal and result in kidney damage. Prevention is the key here.
Such chemicals should be stored on a high shelf and any leaking containers should be disposed off. In case of a spill, thoroughly scrub the spot with soap and water. If you think your dog has licked antifreeze, he will show symptoms of lack of coordination, vomiting and seizures. You should take your pet to the vet immediately.
Salts and de-icers on the sidewalk - This affects every dog in NYC because when it snows and gets icy, the sidewalks are salted to melt the ice. Additionally, main roads are also industrially salted, making it is hard to avoid having your dog walk in salt and other removal chemicals. Dogs may also lick the de-cing product.
Some of these chemicals will lead to vominting, loss of appetite and lethargy. The hard salt can also stick to your dog's foot pads and cause cuts. On your own sidewalks and driveways you can use a non-toxic type of de-icer. However, after a city walk, you should wash your pets paws with warm soapy water, and dry thoroughly.
Frostbite - Just like humans, frostbite can affect your dog. Exposure to frigid temperatures will cause the blood to flow to your dog's center to keep her warm, and can result in tissue damage to her extremites - the tip of the tail, ears and foot pads. Signs of frostbite will cause the skin to become white and cool to the touch, soft or rubbery and then turn black.
Don't let her stay out in the cold longer than you would. Treat the frostbite by pressing a tepid towel on the affected areas for about 20 minutes. Blistering or blackened skin means you should check with your vet. Above all, do not leave your dog outside for hours at a time without regularly checking on her - no matter how long her hair.
Outdoor Dog Shelter - If your dog usually lives outside year round be sure to insulate his dog house with straw or warm padding. Cover the doorway with a flap and keep the shelter small so it holds his body heat. Have it built a few inches off the ground, which will help keep moisture from soaking in. But also consider your pets age even if he has long hair - it may be time to bring him indoors and provide a warmer, draft free shelter.
There is a wealth of information on the internet and the ASPCA website.
For more pet friendly information, including whether your dog should go out and get a job, information about therapy dogs, and acupuncture for pets, see the links below.
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