Winter can be an enjoyable time of year, but it can also pose a range of health challenges for all creatures, including your pets. For dogs, this can be related to cold temperatures, dangerous chemicals like antifreeze, stress and dehydration.
To keep your pet warm, safe and healthy throughout the colder months, here are a range of tips that can help, from how to improve dog immune system to diet, exercise and preventing holiday stress.
Regular walks and play helps to support your dog’s immune system and overall well being while keeping them at a healthy weight. The amount of exercise a dog needs varies depending on their age, breed, size and level of health. While outside, make sure their recall training is up to speed and if in doubt, keep them on a leash.
If you’re completely snowed in, indoor games like “find the treat” can be useful for adding exercise and mental stimulation. This also helps to stave off boredom and anxiety in dogs, which can otherwise lead to problems like chewing furniture or other items.
If they are a short-haired breed or a puppy, a jacket can keep them warm. Protect your dog’s paws by avoiding salt and grit. If their paws are especially sensitive, booties may help but make sure they are well fitted, non-slip and train your dog to wear them well in advance.
If it’s getting dark outside, make sure your pet is easily visible to others by getting a collar, harness or coat with high-visibility features such as reflective patches or flashing lights.Regularly check dog walking apparel such as collars for rust or damage.
Beware Ice And Snow
While walking your dog, keep them on a leash to prevent them falling into snow-covered holes. Never allow your dog onto frozen water. If your dog manages to get onto the pond or lake and falls, avoid going in. Instead, encourage your dog to swim towards you and call the emergency services.
Take Care Around Chemicals
Chemicals like antifreeze are highly poisonous and should be kept away from your pets at all times. While out walking, try to avoid gritted areas as this can get onto your dog’s paws and burn them. Once home, wipe down your dog’s paws, legs and stomach with a damp cloth.
Support Their Immune System
Ensure their vaccines are up to date and make sure they are getting proper nutrition, fresh water and exercise during the colder months. If necessary, your dog may need a supplement such as a probiotic, but only give supplements intended specifically for dogs as advised by a vet.
If there are fireworks nearby, take your dog for a walk before it gets dark. Once inside, draw the curtains, turn on the radio or TV (this can help mask the noise) and create a cozy spot near you or in a designated place in the house (avoid shutting them in as this could make them more stressed).
Noise, busyness and changes to their environment can all be challenging for pets. As far as possible, try to stick to your dog’s regular food, walk and sleep routines. In some cases, your vet may suggest products such as pheromone sprays, which may help calm your pet.