Keeping all breeds and sizes of dogs safer and warmer this winter – a guest blog by Sloan McKinney

Sometimes, I get offers from other writers to contribute to this blog, and I am pleased to welcome Sloan McKinney as my first guest author in a while. We don’t see much snow in Ireland, but February can be a chilly enough month, so read on to find out some of Sloan’s tips to ease the chill for our pets.

Winter tips for dogs

Sometimes when we think of ice and snow, along with dogs that seem to fare these temperatures  better than others, we may imagine much larger dogs that are specially equipped to deal with these colder months. Think about Alaskan Huskies and Saint Bernards, who often pictured pulling sleds through snow-covered tundras or rescuing people from avalanches high in the mountains.

While these animals have thicker coats, more fur around their feet, ears and eyes to protect them from the cold, smaller dogs also may have some unique armor in place to guard against winter’s chill. For example, many breeds of terriers have a thicker layer of hair and fur built up around the pads of their paws to help keep them warmer.

Nature may have given them this extra foot fur to help protect their paws, but it also can be a hindrance in colder weather. This area can attract and trap snow, ice, rocks, mud, dirt and other debris potentially causing them pain or injury. Be sure to regularly check these areas, especially after they’ve come in from the cold.

Beware of Forced Heat

After a trek through the snow, walking on icy streets, or traipsing around on wet grass, be sure to wash their feet with warm water, dry with a soft cloth and check their paws for possible problems. If you are going to be using a hair dryer to rid them of leftover moisture, make sure to always towel dry them first and beware of using this type of forced heat on your four-legged friend.

First of all, make sure the noise and air doesn’t upset, similar to some dog’s annoyance with a vacuum cleaner. Also, use the lowest possible temperature setting to prevent pain and possible burning. Keep the nozzle in constant motion and at least four inches from their skin at all times. There’s no way to know if they’re becoming overheated unless they react in some way and often, by this time, it could be too late.

The Right Coat

If you will be purchasing (or even making them) a jacket or other covering, just like a human child, make sure it’s sized properly and isn’t too tightly around their chest and neck. Also consider their overall size breed, hair and fur type when making this selection. For example, smaller dogs with bald bellies would be better suited (pun intended) with a jacket that covers their stomach.

Boots or Blockage

Many of us have viewed some hilarious online videos of dogs (and cats too) wearing shoes or booties for the first time and some simply won’t tolerate wearing these types of clothing. Although this is a great way of protecting their feet from winter’s worry, there’s another alternative available by applying a type of protective solution instead.

Keeping with winter’s theme, one of the most popular products on the market, Musher’s Secret, was developed in Canada for use on sled dogs. Applying a thin layer of this salve will help to protect your pet’s paws from snow, ice and some of the chemicals used to reduce these problems on city streets. We’re not promoting the use of any particular product, but you can get similar results with Vaseline ® , but it doesn’t use natural ingredients and is made from petroleum jelly.

Whatever way you keep your pet warmer this winter, by sleeping and snuggling with them at night or simply cuddling with them on the couch, consider some of these ways to keep them safe and warm when temperatures dip down.

 

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