When the skies are blue and the air is crisp there’s nothing better than a walk with your dog. We’ve written a few tips on what to watch out for in this cold spell.
As chapped lips can be uncomfortable for us, dogs can suffer with their paws. For some pets taking a walk in the winter is no fun. Exposure to cold, dry air or prolonged contact with ice and snow can leave their paws dry and cracked.
If your dog’s feet have split walking on salt can be incredibly painful. The grains can become logged into the paws resulting in pain with every single step. When you’re walking this winter keep an eye on them to make sure they are not limping. If his paws are split, walking on frost will be like rubbing salt into fresh wounds.
Common problems include:
- De-icers– such as salt and grit are commonly scattered when the weather is below freezing. Although they cause the ice to melt they are toxic to our pets. Try to keep away from walking on heavily treated pathways and prevent your dogs from eating slush or drinking from puddles.
- Ice-balls – form between the pads and between the toes clinging to the hairs in between pads. It’s worthwhile having this hair trimmed.
Hypothermia: It’s not something that occurs often in this country BUT when we do have those cold spells we are not particularly acclimatised to it. Take the time to stop and check your dog isn’t becoming too cold whilst you’re are out. Dogs most commonly at risk are sight hounds, whippets and small dogs, as they feel the cold much more.
Frostbite: Many feel that their dog’s thick coat is enough. But have you thought of their extremities? Their paws, tips of ears and tails. As with direct sunlight, they are unprotected in the winter and can suffer from frostbite. Would you think about going out for a walk on an extremely cold day without a hat and gloves? Watch out for blisters or odd-looking patches of skin.
When you return home from your walk wash your dog’s paws in a bowl of warm water. Make sure you gently remove any ice balls that have formed and any traces of salt or grit.
Dry them too, your dog will feel much more comfortable which will stop them from licking and in turn interdigital dermatitis from developing.
Check their paws before and after walks to make sure there are no cuts or abrasions.
If they already have sore paws it may be worth using dog boots. They will protect his feet from the elements. They come in a range of materials and have a velcro wrap to ensure sure they don’t slip. As with anything applied to their legs, make sure they are not too tight. If you notice any swelling in the limb, remove at once. Take their boots off as soon as you return home and make sure they are cleaned ready for next time.
Provide a warm place for your pets. Don’t leave them outside in the freezing cold. They rely on us to keep them warm. If they normally live outside make sure they have plenty of warm, dry bedding and cover from the elements.
Food and Water
Your dog needs extra energy in the winter as it helps them to maintain their warmth. Pets outdoors will need more, pets who live indoors will need less – as they will be exercising less and sleeping more in the warmth.
Especially those with arthritis will feel particularly uncomfortable in the cold, make sure they are kept as warm as possible by wearing coats on walks and a warm place by the fire when they return home. Walk them little and often.