Snow and ice can build up between dogs' paw pads which is quite uncomfortable. Even worse, dogs' paws can be burned from road salt or de-icers which are hazardous if ingested. Consider dog boots or paw wax. Not all dogs like boots but most adapt and you can make the experience a positive one e.g. provide a treat after each boot.
If your dog absolutely refuses to wear boots, avoid salted areas and be sure to use a pet-friendly non-corrosive de-icing compound for your sidewalks. When you notice that your dog is lifting their paws, be sure to wipe off salt and clear out any snow or ice build up. Once at home, wipe down the paws (and underside) with a warm, damp towel, and then dry. Any snow or ice caught in a dog's coat can also be removed with a warm, damp towel, before rubbing your dog dry.
Most dogs will need jackets especially those that are young, old, ill, thin, or short-haired. Even large dogs will likely need a jacket during the colder months. Jackets should ideally be made of waterproof material and lined with some type of warm fabric.
If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, or seems weak, bring your dog inside straight away because they are showing signs of hypothermia. You may also notice slowed breathing or pale gums. Tips for immediate care can be found at PetMD.
Dogs can also be frostbitten especially on the tips of their ears, tail, paw pads, and nose. Unfortunately, frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days later.
If you suspect that your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
A cold car can be as deadly as a hot one. Cold cars act like a refrigerator and can freeze a dog to death.
A small amount of antifreeze can be fatal to pets. Consider using antifreeze that contains propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. A second option would be to use antifreeze that contains bittering agents which help to prevent pets from drinking it.
Like people, dogs can get bored. As your dog will be inside more in the winter, it's important that their minds are kept active. Consider puzzle games, chews, or even enrolling your dog in indoor dog training classes. An easy and cost effective game that you can play with your dog is called 'nose work'. Simply hide treats in your home and ask your dog to find them!
The Regina Humane Society has a comprehensive list of cold weather tips for pet owners.
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