Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe in the Winter

Winter is arguably the best season to enjoy the best of family life, as we bond over hot roasts, temptingly sweet winter desserts, and spicy mulled wine. It is important to ensure that our pet dog also makes the most of winter by identifying and preventing common health risks. Temperature, food, and indoor hazards are just three areas we should focus on, to ensure the season it truly a jolly one for all.

Avoiding Pet Toxicity

We tend to consume richer meals during the holidays, including roasts, fruit, nuts, and desserts. Family members are sometimes tempted to let Fido enjoy a little of the goodness, but it is important for your dog to stick to his regular diet. Festive foods like turkey stuffing can contain ingredients which are toxic to dogs, including nuts, onions, garlic, and even grapes.

Chocolate, another holiday favorite, can cause serious health issues for canines, so it is best to avoid feeding leftovers, especially if your dog is facing a health issue or taking medication. The golden rule is only to feed your pooch during scheduled mealtimes. This way, he won’t beg for food at the table.

Selecting the Right Decor

If you have puppies in the house, be careful of leaving Christmas balls and other decorations within their reach. Moreover, plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe, which are such an important part of many holiday traditions, can cause everything from seizures to abdominal pain, and even death. Fir trees inside the home can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach, and pine needles can cause gastrointestinal problems. Other plants to avoid include Christmas cactus, amaryllis, lilies, and daffodils.

Keep Your Dog Away from Driveways

Many people use antifreeze on driveways; unfortunately, this substance is sweet and tempting to dogs, but is also highly toxic. Winter is not a time to let your dog off the leash, since snow can also hide cracks or changes of level on the road, which can lead to injury.

Keeping Hypothermia and Frostbite at Bay

In snowy weather, dogs can develop frostbite (when ice and snow get stuck between their toes, for instance) and hypothermia (in which the dog’s temperature and heart rate decrease to dangerous levels). When the thermometer hits 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below, your dog should wear a coat or vest, especially if they don’t have plenty of fur, they are older, or they have health issues. If you can convince your dog used to boots, all the better; if not, your dog should only walk on snow for a few minutes and always under your supervision. Cut the fur around his  paws short and treat paws with paw balm, which provides a protective barrier against snow. After walking, clean your dog’s paws, clearing them of snow, ice, and salt (which, like antifreeze, is toxic).

Keep Your Dog Warm Inside

Make sure your thermostat is set at a comfy temperature; it is best to avoid space heaters, since your dog might burn his skin by getting too close. Ensure your dog has a nice warm bed and blanket; many pooches are burrowers and love nothing more than hiding under a blanket.

Exercise is important for dogs all year round, so make sure your dog doesn’t get bored or lazy in the winter. By caring for his paws, ensuring he has the clothing he needs and keeping him away from harmful toxins, you will ensure that he enjoys the holiday season as much as you do.

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