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A pet is like another member of the family. You have to play, interact and take care of them. Just like the winter season poses dangers to the human members of your household, dogs also face unique concerns during the colder months. These safety tips for owners will ensure that your dog is ready to handle the challenges that winter may bring.
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Before it gets too cold outside, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. This is an ideal time for a checkup, vaccinations and any other preventative treatments as well as to ask any questions you have about keeping your dog safe and healthy during the winter.
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Similar to how some dog breeds are better for people with allergies, other dog breeds are better suited to the cold than others. Breeds that are short-coated, thin or small as well as elderly or very young dogs get cold more quickly, so try to limit their time outside in the cold weather. On the other hand, some dogs have Arctic origins or were bred for cold climates, so they can handle cold and snow no problem. However, even these breeds should not be outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.
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If it is too cold for you to go outside, it is most likely too cold for your dog to go outside. Dogs need time to get used to the cold winter temperatures, so start with shorter walks to build up their tolerance and get a feel for what they can handle. Besides, you can still have fun with your family dog inside.
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Sometimes the signs that your dog is struggling in the cold are right in front of you. While you are walking your dog, pay attention if your furry friend is shivering, whining, stops moving or starts looking for warm places to burrow. These can all be signs that your dog is too cold or experiencing hypothermia.
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If you live in a state that gets a lot of snowfall, it might be tempting to let your dog romp around, but make sure you keep your dog leashed when taking them outside during the winter to prevent them from getting lost. Snowfall could hide recognizable scents from your dog and as a result, it can be harder for them to find their way home.
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Although it may seem funny to let your dog slide around, do not allow your dog to walk or play on frozen ponds, lakes or other bodies of water. The ice can easily crack and your dog could fall in. Slipping on ice can also cause injuries. To avoid this, here are some hacks for removing ice around your home.
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Although snow is soft, it can be abrasive to a dog’s paws to walk on snow and ice, even if you are not outside for very long. Use booties or put petroleum jelly or other paw protectant products onto paw pads before going outside to help protect them from ice, sand, salt and chemical agents.
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Booties can be tough for your dog to get used too. So before temperatures start dramatically dropping, put booties on your dog to make sure they fit properly and let your dog get used to them. That way, when they need to wear them, there is no pushback and they can walk in the cold safely.
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If you don’t use booties, make sure to clean your dog’s paws off after walking outside in the winter. You can keep a bucket of water next to the door so you can clean their feet off as soon as they walk in. Use warm water and clean between toes and pads.
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While on a walk, your dog’s feet and belly can pick up moisture, snow and ice as well as de-icers, antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get home, wash or wipe down your dog’s feet, legs and belly to remove snow and ice as well as any chemicals they might have possibly picked up. This takes away the risk that they will lick themselves and be poisoned.
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The hair on the bottom of your dog’s feet can form ice balls between pads and toes, so make sure to keep it trimmed. It should be even with the surface of the foot.
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Your dog’s nails may need some extra attention when it gets cold. Nails wear down less and can collect snow and salt during walks outside.
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Just like you need to be comfortable to get better sleep, your dog needs to be warm to get a good night’s sleep as well. Your dog may move around your house based on how warm or cold they are. Give them options so they can adjust as needed.
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Yes, dogs have their own coat, but some dog breeds have thicker coats than others. If your dog is old, small, delicate or short-haired, make sure they are wearing the appropriate winter wear when they go outside.
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Don’t shave your dog down to the skin before or during winter. This takes away their coat, which provides them with warmth, and allows their skin to come in more direct contact with the elements. If your dog is long-haired, keep them trimmed to minimize mats and to keep them from picking up snow, ice and chemicals in their coats.
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Just like humans, dogs that are very young or very old have a hard time dealing with the cold. They often have harder times regulating their body temperature, and as a result, have more extreme reactions to changes in weather. Cold-weather walks can be difficult for old dogs and young pups to deal with, so keep them inside as much as possible.
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Antifreeze is just one of the things that is extremely dangerous if a dog consumes it. Even a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause kidney failure. Signs that your dog has possibly swallowed antifreeze are drooling, vomiting, seizures, excessive thirst, panting, lethargy and a drunken appearance. If you think your dog has ingested some, take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
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Fresh, clean water is something that should be available for your dog at all times, especially during the winter. Staying hydrated will help their skin be less dry.
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You never want to give your dog too much food, but during winter, they need more than they do during the rest of the year. Dogs burn more energy trying to stay warm. Plus, a little extra weight on your dog can give your dog protection from the cold. Make sure they don’t become overweight, however, as other health risks can come from that.
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Everybody loves a clean dog, right? Well, during the winter, you should not give them a full bath as regularly. Washing your dog too often will remove essential oils and can increase their risk of dry, flaky skin.
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Even if you take safety precautions, your dog can still get dry skin. It’s important to treat it. Some dog shampoos and conditioners can help moisturize the skin. There are also dog supplements such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that you can give your dog that can help restore your dog’s essential oils.
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Regular brushing is essential even if it is not winter, as it keeps your dog’s coat healthy and mat-free. How often you brush their coat — daily, weekly or monthly — depends on the type of coat, length and how easy it is to get it tangled. If you want to live in a city that is well-suited for you and your furry friend, here are some of the best pet-friendly cities in America.
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