Keep Your Dog Safe
I thought winter was over but then we woke up to snow today with more forecast for the weekend. When the temperature drops, it is important to keep our family members warm and cozy. We all need to be aware of common winter threats to pets. Our pet’s safety is our responsibility.
Special thanks to Amber Kingsley for submitting this guest post that summarizes 3 common winter threats to pets. Number 1 surprised me.
Thank you to Amber and to NEO-PAWS™ for the photos
1 – Cold and Heat Loss
Many of us have been told that the majority of body heat escapes from our head. This myth has recently been found to be an “old wives tale”. Old military studies from the 50’s claimed heat loss through our heads accounted for up to 45% of our bodies becoming cold or not retaining heat if not properly insulated. However, according to Livescience and other sources, in updated research, the number is estimated to be closer to 7 or 10% for this type of heat loss. When it comes to dogs, the number may be even smaller.
A significant loss of heat would generally be through bare feet or paws, especially if touching ice and snow.
Certain dog breeds like Alaskan Huskies, Malamutes, and Saint Bernards, have built up extra layers of hair and fur around their feet to protect their paws from the cold and snow. Surprisingly, some tiny terriers also have this kind of protection growing around their feet apparently. Other breeds may benefit from boots or shoes like humans do.
2 – Paws can be poisoned or injured
Other dangers that pets may face during colder winter months can also come from their feet. In the city, they may walk on icy streets and through puddles of antifreeze, salt and other chemicals meant to make the sidewalks safer for humans but highly toxic to dogs if absorbed (it never occurred to me that the salt used could be toxic for Kilo the Pug before hearing about a friend’s dog that got sick).
In parks or more rural environments, they could step on or pick up dirt, mud, ice, rocks and other debris that could be dangerous to their paws. You often can not see sharp objects and danger through the snow.
Whether you’ve taken them for a walk on slick city streets or a romp through the wilderness, especially if they are not wearing boots, always be sure to wash and dry your pet’s feet thoroughly after they return from the cold. Check that their feet are clean with well-trimmed nails that don’t catch on things and free from winter’s threats.
For grooming tips on trimming their nails, read here.
3 – Use Forced Heat Wisely
When your four-legged best friend does come in from the cold and they’re soaking wet, gently dry them with a clean cloth. Be very careful if you decide to use forced heat, like that coming from a blow dryer, which can cause a number of different problems including dry, irritated skin or burnt, blistered paws.
The machines at pet salons, groomers, and other animal care places is slower and cooler than a high-wattage hair dryer meant for humans.
Overall, it’s considered safe to use a blow dryer on a pet, as long as you use the lowest possible heat setting available, keep the nozzle at least four inches from their hair or skin and keep it in constant motion at all times. Our animals aren’t usually aren’t able to tell us that it’s getting too hot for them until they’re in possible danger from receiving a nasty burn.
Roanna designs and manufactures a full line of high quality, innovative, orthopedic and easy-to-use dog apparel products with the animal’s safety, comfort and performance in mind. For more information on protecting your dog and particularly keeping their Paws safe, check out our post on dog shoes and life jackets with Roanna from NEO-PAWS™ International HERE. They design and manufacture a full line of high quality, innovative, orthopedic and easy-to-use products with the animal’s safety, comfort and performance in mind.
Amber lives in Santa Monica, California. She’s a dog-lover, travel junkie, and writer. She’s backpacked all through Europe and South America and her next goal is to conquer Asia and find the perfect cup of coffee!