If you’re anything like me, your dog is a great excuse to get outside on a cold winter day. Big and small, all of our four legged companions need year-round exercise to stay fit both physically and mentally. Here on Cape Cod, that gets slightly more complicated in these brisk New England winters. Every season, I must remind myself that we can’t just barge out the door in freezing temperatures (it hurts, after all). There are important things to remember to keep your dog safe, healthy and happy. Here is my short list of winter dog tips:
#1 Layers Layers Layers
Just because dogs have fur doesn’t mean they don’t need an extra layer. While certain breeds are blessed with thick winter coats, this time of year many of our best friends simply do not adjust naturally. If you’re dealing with a smaller dog (think Chihuahua or perhaps a short hair breed like a Greyhound) then you should absolutely get a sweater or jacket. I prefer the kind with extra pockets so I can load in a few extra snacks to keep that energy level up during longer walks. Definitely stop into the shop if you need advice and supplies.
#2 Paw Protection
Take care of those feet! While there are plenty of pet safe paw conditioners available, you can always add a bit of coconut oil or petroleum jelly just before a walk to help feet moisturized and crack-free. Please make sure wipe them off quickly before they romp around when they come back indoors! This gets rid of any excess oils and helps remove those nasty ice meting products. Also, it’s very important to keep those nails properly trimmed for traction. For many breeds, untrimmed nails also cause the paw the splay out during walking, which in turn traps excess snow and ice this time of year.
#3 Keep it Brief
Dogs can get frostbite too, so please don’t stay out too long (unless you’re training for the Iditarod) and learn to recognize the signs of a cold pet! Often times the first areas to be affected by the cold are the ears, tails and feet especially in temperatures below 32 degrees. This is when blood vessels in those areas begin to constrict to preserve core temperatures. Frost bitten skin can look discolored and a bit grey. If you’re unsure or concerned about something, consult your veterinarian.
Keeping dogs properly hydrated in the winter is just as important as in warmer summer months. Eating snow, sometimes oddly colored snow, is definitely not a substitute. So, bring along plenty of water whenever you venture out.
Hope to see you all outside but if it gets too cold……call the resort.