Winter is Coming: Time to Protect Your Pets


Winter weather tips, pet expert Steve Dale

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I hesitate to write about this – but it really is that time of year. The temperatures have fallen, the snow is falling, and people and dogs in winter are slipping on the ice.

For small dogs, sight hounds, and very elderly dogs a sweater or coat is a good idea. It’s funny how this works. Right now, 25 degrees feels mighty cold for us. By March, 25 degrees may feel great. The same is true for dogs who haven’t yet acclimated to the cold.Winter safety for pets

If you happen to live in the South, a sudden drop to 45 degrees seems frigid for us. If you live in Atlanta or Memphis, that’s pretty cold. It doesn’t last long is the good news. But the bad news is that you’re totally not adjusted. And the same is indeed true for dogs.

Of course, your average Alaskan Husky, Malamute, Newfoundland, and Bernese or Swiss Mountain Dog are celebrating the arrival of winter. They want to spend more time outdoors.

No more hurtin’ paws

However, any dog of any breed or mix disdains walking on customary street salt.  If dogs lick enough of this salt off their paws, it can cause an upset tummy. When people forget to wipe the salt off, it can even stain some carpeting.

Steve Dale winter safety tipsSafe Step Sure Paws is a safe choice, meeting U.S. EPA Safer Product Standards. Because Safe Step Sure Paws uses magnesium chloride, it doesn’t sting dog paws and as an added benefit is not destructive to plants or concrete.

Of course, dogs in winter can wear little booties in snow and ice. And that’s a good idea, though some dogs aren’t convinced. In general, the Velcro booties are more likely to stay on dogs’ paws.

Let it snow, Let it snow

Snow can be fun to play in but some dogs can get cold. So much is size and breed dependent. Large dogs and those with thicker coats can be nearly impervious and can burrow through and romp in snow. Small dogs may shiver after five minutes, which is a body’s desperate attempt to keep warm. Still some dogs – being dogs – will continue playing in the snow if they’re given a chance, when an adult should step in and say, “let’s go inside.”Winter safety tips for pets

If the temperature falls low enough, frostbite can occur. If it’s cold enough for you to be frostbitten, it’s cold enough to happen to dogs. As in people the extremities are the most susceptible, such as tips of tails and ears.

It’s true with more time outdoors, many dogs in winter do get more acclimated to cold. Having said that, for much of the country it’s getting colder and colder, so we need to take the proper steps to keep our furry family members safe.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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