Guess what the forecast is in Iowa this week? Snow. And not just a light dusting...a whole lotta snow.
Needless to say, we are kind of dreading it. The first few days are always very pretty and peaceful, and it's fun to step out into a glittering, white flurry of flakes the first day of the season. And who doesn't love a white Christmas? But then the snow stays. And stays and stays. And along with the snow comes problems: Shoveling. The flu. Icy roads. But also painful paw pads, dry itchy skin, and changes in diet and grooming.
It can be tough for your pet to adjust to a new season, but you can help winter-proof your dog by following these five tips.
1. Protect those paws. That frozen ground is painful for your dog's sensitive paws! Frostbite, ice melt irritation, and cracking/drying are just a few of the risks involved when your dog steps out into the snow. Think ahead by buying some booties for your dog to wear outside. You can also treat dry and cracked paws, nose, and skin with soothing balms. More info can be found here.
2. Update your dog's wardrobe. Besides the protective booties, think about dressing your dog in a warm coat or sweater when he goes outside. Senior, underweight, or small dogs are particularly sensitive to cold weather. A dog's fur coat alone isn't enough to protect them from bitter winds, especially if they spend a lot of time outside.
3. Stay smart when outside. Know your dog's limits - if your teeth are chattering, chances are that your dog's are too. If you have an elderly or very young dog, consider keeping a pee pad inside for the very coldest of days. Keep your walks short and brisk, and always watch your pup closely - more dogs go missing in the winter than any other time of year. Don't let your dog eat too much snow, since it can cause stomach upset in large amounts. And whatever you do: Keep your dog nice and dry! A dog's coat retains water, and once it's wet it takes a very long time to dry; this is especially dangerous in the winter because of the risk of hypothermia.
4. Winterize your dog's grooming habits. A longer fur length than usual can help protect against cold temperatures. Embrace the shaggy! :) Trim nails and groom paws more often to keep an eye out for irritated pads. Be sure your dog is completely dry after bathing before taking him outside. Also, consider your dog's diet: Since he will be spending more time indoors and most likely getting much less exercise, adjust their food accordingly.
5. Know the symptoms of winter-related illnesses. Hypothermia, frostbite, ice melt irritation, and antifreeze poisoning are all things to watch out for during the winter season. It's also important to pay attention to your pet during the holidays - with all of the ribbon, gift wrap, and Christmas candies around, your dog might be tempted to ingest something harmful. For more information on winter-related health conditions, click here.
Stay warm out there! <3