Here are some tips for Guide & Assistance Dog Owners, Puppy Raisers and pet owners during cold weather!
Dogs usually love the snow and will enjoy playing in it. However, it is nearly impossible to maintain balance in icy conditions if you are visually impaired and your dog may be intimidated by you slipping. Don't feel you must take your dog out. Your dog doesn't have to get walked every day. Additionally, snow can conceal trip hazards like up kerbs etc. It is best to venture out during mid-day and early afternoon, as opposed to the early morning and late in the evening. Consider if your journey is really necessary and can be avoided. If dogs are unable to get out for physical exercise then mental exercise such as a stuffed kong or chew should be provided. Stuffed kongs can be used to feed meals out of so that your dog isn't getting excessive food on days they are not active. On days when your dog doesn't get out for walks, they should receive a reduced daily ration by about 10 percent.
Old and young dogs, dogs with thin coats or those with an underlying medical condition can be more susceptible to cold weather. If you are heading out with your dog consider investing in a jacket for them. Pair it with yummy treats the first couple of times you introduce it, so your dog makes a positive connection with it.
If your dog has long hair on their paws that is causing salt, grit or snow to stick to it then consider trimming this hair back slightly. Check your dog's paws after each trip outside. They can be dipped in a basin of warm water to dissolve snow and wash off salt or grit once you get home.
Puppy paws are not as hardened and weathered as adult dog paws so it may be best not to walk puppies in these harsh conditions.
You may find your dog is taking longer to go to the toilet in the garden. Be patient as your dog may be finding it harder to find a good spot due to the lack of scents because of the cold weather. If snow is deep consider clearing a patch that your dog can use as a toilet area.
Carry a towel to dry your dog off if you go out. It is highly important their coats are not left wet in this harsh weather to avoid risk of hypothermia or frost bite.
Do not leave your dog out over night or during the day. There is a common misconception that dogs can withstand the cold weather, however, this is not the case. Ensure they have a comfortable bed in a warm room away from drafts. Beds raised off the ground can be best in this harsh weather. Take care to ensure your dog is not leaning against the heater to avoid risk of burns.
Coconut oil, petroleum jelly, paw wax or sudocream can help sore paws. It is best to apply any treatments to the paws while the dog is distracted so they do not lick them off. Supervise your dog fully until they have been absorbed by the paws. Consider giving a stuffed kong or other toy stuffed with food to keep your dog busy.
Ensure your dog drinks plenty of water as they can dehydrate just as easily in cold weather as they can in hot weather. Snow is not a good source of water for dogs.
As always, if you need some advice please give us a call on 021 4878 200.