Britain is renowned for its unpredictable weather and whatever the weather, it is always best to plan ahead! Winter is a great time of the year, and with some tips and tricks we can make it as comfortable as possible for our pets.
A lot of us wrap up to brave the cold, but few people realise that their pooch may need to wrap up too. Lean, short haired breeds like the Greyhound and Chihuahua are prone to feeling the cold much more than others. Their slim, slender frames definitely benefit from a cosy coat or jumper to keep their body heat contained. Young puppies and senior dogs feel the cold also; suitable coats can keep them toasty. Be careful as to monitor your pet’s temperature when wearing a coat or jumper, as some breeds are prone to overheating!
While we humans prepare for the ice and snow, substances such as grit and salt are widely used on the UK’s paths and roads. While it makes our lives easier, it can get caught up in paw pads and cause irritation. Before a walk, mix boiling water with a gentle pet shampoo, it would have cooled by the time you get home so be sure to wipe down legs, paws, bellies to remove any grit, stones or ice. This is also a lovely way to warm your pooch (and your hands!) when you get in. Hair between the toes should be trimmed – either by yourself or by a groomer. This prevents ice from sticking in-between paw pads, making it uncomfortable to walk. It is best to keep nails clipped to a reasonable length, as long claws can cause paws to splay and therefore collect more ice deposits.
How many of us dig out the electric blanket around this time of year? It’s always nice to get into a snug bed after a cold day. Dogs too need a comfy spot away from draughts; you can buy heated/thermal bedding that reflects the dog’s body heat back into them. An extra snuggly blanket is always appreciated too!
As we climb from our warm beds in the morning, frost is a common sight. While anti-freeze is very useful, it’s sweet smell and taste attracts dogs and can have fatal consequences if lapped up. Keep any locked away and clear up spillages, do not allow your dog to drink from puddles when on a walk in case they are contaminated. Dog walkers will agree that along with winter come beautiful views, getting wrapped up and strolling through the countryside on a crisp morning is a great way to wake up and enjoy some time with your dog. Off-lead walks should be monitored, as dogs can easily wander on to a frozen pond or lake and be at risk of falling through the ice.
Familiarise yourself and your family with the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Aim for several short periods of exercise instead of a couple of long walks. Though it may be nice to take a seat and admire the frosty views, your dog easily feels the cold and may not appreciate it as much as you do!