Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter Advisory

The Richmond area is currently under a winter weather advisory.  They're calling for 2-5" of snow and some areas could see more.  For some people, this is nothing (and admittedly after living in MN for 4 years, I think people are overreacting), but regardless about how you feel about the weather, your dog may need to take some extra precautions.  So, I'm going to take a break for the Questions series today, and I'm going to give y'all some winter weather pointers.

The Paws
There are many things during winter weather that can affect the paws.  The storm that's being predicted has been preceded by lots of rain.  Rain can freeze and turn to ice.  Ice can cut paws.  Trust me, I've seen it happen, and it's not pretty. 

Another thing that can affect the paws is rock salt.  You know?  The stuff that's put down to help melt the ice on sidewalks and driveways.  Most dogs are actually quite sensitive to this stuff, and if their paws have any sort of cut or abrasion on them, the salt can really hurt.  So, it's important to protect their feet.

When looking at different types of foot protection, really any sort of booty will do.  You don't HAVE to spend lots of money on a luxurious boot, particularly if you're just taking your dog out to pee or out to the car.  However, if you're doing more adventuresome things, or if your dog is one who really wants to play in the snow, it might benefit you to go with something a little more high end.

My favorite form of boot is from RuffWear.  Personally I have a pair of their Grip Trex, and they work great.  They have other options for dogs going through deeper snow, but this is fantastic protection from snow and ice, and the hard Vibram sole helps my dogs to grip and keeps them from slipping.  Bonus: You can use them on more than just snowy days.  They're also great for hiking or even just terrain that's a little harder on the paws.

The Cold
Obviously, cold on these days can be a factor, and cold-weather needs will vary from dog to dog.  My two dogs, Cody and Lollie, have very different needs.  Cody can go outside without any protective gear, but he does need to be monitored.  Then, when he comes in, we have to make sure we dry him off and wrap him in blankets to keep his body temperature from dropping.  Lollie, on the other hand, gets cold just thinking about bad weather, so she needs some extra stuff.
To order a sweater for your dog, follow this link.

For just running around town and keeping warm indoors, Lollie has a simple sweater.  Of course, like people clothes, no two sweaters are created equally.  After trying a few options, I've fallen in love with the sweaters from West Paw Design.  They look nice, they're comfortable on her, and they keep her warm.  Plus, they're eco-friendly, so what more could you ask for?

For more extended periods of time out, we actually have a full-blown coat. There are a variety out there, but the one that works best for Lollie is from Canine Styles.  It's actually a mini horse blanket, so it keeps her warm, it's easy to put on, and it's comfortable.  The only downside is that it's dry clean only, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Small Dogs
Of course, small dogs have one issue that big dogs don't.  The snow is often over their heads!!!  For a small dog, or a dog who doesn't like his belly to hit the cold, you may need to clear a potty space.  This means get out the shovel, and dig a path from your door to your yard.  Make sure this space stay clear for your dog and scoop any think your dog may leave behind.  Also be careful as you scoop.  Continued scooping may cause the snow to pack, leaving it slick and difficult to maneuver.  To add extra grip to this surface (or to human walk ways as well), try pouring some non-clumping kitty litter on top.  The kitty litter is safe for dog's paws, and it won't degrade your walk way like salt will.  Yay!!

Other Hazards
Other things to look out for are things we use to keep us warm and safe.  Think antifreeze, fireplaces, etc.  Keep your dog far away from antifreeze as it apparently tastes sweet, but is extremely toxic.  Fireplaces can be quite a burn hazards, so if your dog likes to warm up next to the fire, make sure there's a grate to keep embers from rolling out and harming your dog.  Of course, also make sure that your dog doesn't try to fetch those sticks you're throwing in the fire!

All in all, by paying attention to your pet and by using a bit of common sense, you should be able to keep your dog safe, happy, and healthy.  By taking a few precautions, both you and your pet can have a lot of fun outside!

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