Y.A.W.S Top 10 tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy this winter.
Keeping your dog happy in winter is not difficult if you follow our top ten care tips, Mans best friend is quite resilient with its warm winter fur coat and is better suited than most to cope well with the colder weather of winter.
Picture above - Credit JG @ Y.A.W.S - Wispa and Charlie enjoying the snow
While Many dogs can cope with the cold, but that's depending on the breed and coat condition. i.e. short, smooth coated dogs are less able to cope with the colder weather and may require a coat unlike the double coated breeds like Huskies and Malamutes.
Pictured - short and smooth coated dog in the snow.
Other considerations are what we feed our dogs? during the colder months we inevitably spend more time in the house eating, especially with holidays like Halloween and Christmas at this time of year.
And with our dogs being a big part of the family we obviously want to share our food with them, this needs to be given special consideration before you share your food with your dog, as some foodstuffs can be dangerous if fed.
Our top ten care tips will give you an idea of what considerations you need to give your dog in winter. Don't forget to raise awareness and please share.......
Pictured above - A happy dog playing in the snow
Our Ten Tips
for a happy dog winter
1) Rock salt and Antifreeze is dangerous
Pictured - Road Gritter out on the roads.
Wash off your dogs' paws in snowy/frosty conditions - Rock salt(sodium chloride), we spread it on our roads and pavements in the coldest of weather generally safe for us but is a silent killer for mans best friend.
Pictured A healthy and happy dog's pads
When walked across the salted surfaces, the salt can cause burns similar to frostbite on the dog's pads, and if this wasn't bad enough licking it off and ingesting the salt can cause poisoning making your dog sick and in the worse cases, lethal.
Pictured above - Antifreeze is lethal credit from the PDSA online 2018
Antifreeze tastes sweet, and dogs (as well as some children!) will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic, and just a small amount can be fatal. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where she may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals.
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Always wash and dry your dog's pads whenever they may have been exposed to any rock salt at all.
Be aware of sore/red looking pads checking in between the toes for signs of soreness. If you see your dog licking excessively, have a good look at their paws and if you're worried seek veterinary advice.
Help your dog repel water and contaminants by applying Vaseline type products to their pads before you go out.
2) How is my dog coping with the cold
Is your dog cold? Many dog breeds we have in the UK can deal with winter quite well with only minor changes in care if your dog is healthy and has a thick natural fur coat he/she should be ok to go for a walk without a jacket or sweater.
Smaller dog breeds and breeds with short, smooth coats will require some protection from the cold weather. If it’s too cold for you to stand at the door without your coat, it’s probably too cold for your dog also, so pay attention to their behaviour while outdoors.
If you notice your dog whining, shivering or appearing anxious, or they stop playing and seems to be looking for places to burrow, then it’s time to bring her in hypothermia is a real threat.
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Monitor your dog's behaviour any strange reluctance in going outside is your dog screaming at you "I'm cold." Any other strange behaviour like a clean dog going to the toilet in the house is another subtle sign that your dog may be cold.
Make sure you have a correctly fitted coat, a dog that doesn't want to put on coat isn't a sign he/she isn't cold, but could be a more likely reason that the clothing is uncomfortable in some way, i.e. too tight/rubbing when the dog has had it on a while, check this out first.
Pictured - A dog tied up outside in the cold weather " would you want to live like this? bring your dog inside in winter" picture credit Peta.org
Limit outside time - keeping outside time to a minimum in the coldest parts of winter will help protect your dog from some serious and in some cases life threatening occurrences, never leave your dog outside without constant monitoring to ensure he/she isn't suffering from the effects of the cold.
3) - A Cosy bed-
Pictured above, a dog and kitten enjoying a cosy and comfortable place to sleep
In addition to keeping your dog warm outside, we need to mindful on where we place our pets bed within the home, heat rises in a house, so our four-legged friends feel the cold first, sleeping on a cold hard floor is not good for a dog's joints and can cause arthritic symptoms in the dog's later life.
Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm. Warm blankets can create a snug environment; raised beds can keep your dog off cold tiles or concrete, and heated pet beds can help keep the stiffness out of ageing joints.
Wherever a dog's bed is placed, requires some careful thought, put the bed off the floor to keep it off cold tiles/laminate and to avoid it being in a draught. Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot preferably in a favourite spot where he/she sleeps every day so that the area doesn’t feel unfamiliar.
Ensure the bed is near the family, a dog is happier as part of a pack whether the pack is canine or human, avoid putting it in front of the fire if it is not needed this will only cause the dog to move when it's too warm and choose to lay on a cold hard floor.
Using a heated pad/blanket can help an aged dogs mobility.
4) -Be fire smart
Pictured above - be fire smart pictured fire is way too close to the pet bed and sleeping pets
Protect your dog from heaters and fires, and dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by laying too close to heat sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned.
Fireplaces also pose a significant threat so please make sure you have a pet-proof system to keep your heat-seeking pooch out of harm’s way!
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Raise heaters off the floor, so the heater intake vents cant obstructed by your pets close proximity. Use baby fire guard systems to surround the fireplace and stop your dog getting too close to open flames. Give them a warm, cosy bed to avoid them seeking heat.
5) Good dog skin care
Pictured - Good skin care picks up on issues your dog may have, like this bull dog pictured with sores on it's chin
Help prevent dry, flaky skin by adding a skin and coat supplement to her food. Coconut oil is an excellent natural moisturiser that can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy.
If you find your pet’s paws, ears or tail are dry or cracking, and you can also apply coconut oil topically as needed.
6) - Don't overfeed
Pictured- Border collie feeding
Although dogs may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behaviour and the need for fewer calories.
Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust her calories accordingly.
A high quality, whole foods balanced diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.
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Keep treats to a minimum, and human foods are not suited for mans best friend in many ways, like fat, and additive content which can have detrimental effects on their body and behaviour.
Some of the things that are safe for humans may not be safe for dogs, like onions and garlic, these may be a staple for many of our human dishes and while small amounts of onion and garlic may be fed and have no detrimental effects.
Pictured - foodstuffs safe for dogs poster credit - dogseechew.com
Recipes that have high concentrations of these ingredients could pose a health risk and in severe cases can cause lethal poisoning.
Other foods are as equally dangerous things like grapes, chocolate and salt.
7) Keep your dog hydrated
Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water, if your dog spends time outdoors, make sure she has access to a water bowl, check it often and break the ice that forms on top.
8) Groom your dog
Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep them adequately insulated, and this is vitally important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly, especially before allowing them outside.
Pictured - Shitzu being groomed photo credit wix.com
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A filthy, knotted coat cant stand up and trap heat, thus is unable to regulate the dog's body temperature properly. A knotted, un-managed coat can hide serious health issues and cause your dog to suffer in silence.
9) Protect them from dog thieves
Picture above credit birminghammail.co.uk
The long nights of winter are the perfect cover for criminals. Please be aware that dog thieves will be operating in your area, unfortunately across West Yorkshire regular reports of dogs being taken by unscrupulous people for various reasons like dog baiters, puppy farming and selling on to unknowing purchasers.
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Never leave your dog unattended in the garden, it is all too easy to steal a friendly dog from an unlocked garden gate or from over a fence/wall and make a get away in a waiting vehicle. Get your dog chipped, 2018 sees it a legal requirement from all dog owners to ensure your dog has a microchip and it is your responsibility to keep its details current.
Pictured above dog tied up outside credit adobe stock
Don't let your dog get too far in front of you on a walk, be aware of your surroundings and who may be in waiting that you can't see.
10) Special care for seniors
Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s essential to maintain an exercise regime with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm, soft rest area to recuperate after activity.
If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.
Keeping your dog happy and healthy this winter will help keep you and your pocket healthy and happy too, these care tips are here to help you understand winter from your dog's point of view and help you make better decisions about winter care for your dog.
If you have any health related questions and issues your first port of call should always be your registered veterinary surgery.