As we all know, winters are harsh here in Boulder County, Colorado. Our dogs cannot tell us when they are experiencing any type of distress. There are factors such as low humidity, the cold, and hazards from ice and snow that require more vigilance and awareness to help our best friends stay safe, warm and healthy throughout the colder months.
Winter Skin, Paw Pad and Fur Care
A good time to inspect your dog’s state of health is when you are petting them inside the house. Take the time to examine their fur and their underlying skin. If their skin looks dry and flaky, you may need to add a tiny amount of olive oil or coconut oil to their food in order to help moisturize their skin. Dry skin is as uncomfortable and unhealthy for them as it is for us.
It is also key to take a look at the pads on their paws. During the colder months, pets pads can become dry and cracked. This can lead to suffering and pain when your dog has to walk on cracked pads. If their pads do not look moist and supple and you have already added oil to their diet, consider some dog paw protection in the form of some paw balm. In our shop, we carry paw balm that moisturizes paw pads and keeps them protected from cold weather. You just massage a thin layer of the balm right into your pet’s paws.
During your examination of your pet’s paws, see if hairs are extending beyond their pads. If so, trim these so that they are flush with the pads. Hairs extending beyond their pads can trap harmful chemicals in both rainy and snowy weather. When your pet licks their paws, they can ingest these chemicals and get poisoned.
If both your pooch as well as your family are experiencing signs of dry skin and possibly dryness in your mouths and mucous membranes, it is possible that you don’t have enough indoor humidity in your home. In that case, you may want to think about an indoor humidifier system. If you have a wood stove for heat, you can place a tea kettle on the wood stove and allow the tea kettle to add moisture to the air naturally. All Colorado homes can benefit from some added humidity.
Play in Freezing Conditions
Just like us, dogs need to go outside to play during the long, colder seasons. We need to be more vigilant about the length and the type of play that occurs and to be aware of winter hazards that can cause accidents or injuries. One suggestion is to have vigorous play, such as a playing fetch. When you and your pet are engaged in vigorous outdoor activity, you will both be warmer and can stay out a bit longer. When the play ends, though, bring your dog inside to the warm house, so they don’t get chilled.
If you go for a walk with your dog or they are outside, be really mindful of their behavior and bring them in whenever they exhibit signs of being too cold, like shivering, whining or whimpering, trying to go back home or getting lethargic. Any dog can benefit from a dog jacket, and short-haired dogs are the very first prospects for a warm dog coat. The best dog coat will extend from the base of their neck to the base of their tail.
Fabrics are important as well. Fabrics like wool and Polartec keep your dog warm, while they send the moisture from their bodies to the outside of the fabric. This keeps them from getting chilled from perspiration. In the rain, it is best to have fabrics that repel water and at the same time are breathable. If the rain jacket is sized just right, you could put one over the other on the very coldest days we get in Boulder County for the most cold weather protection.
Even though they don’t like them at first, your pooch may benefit from dog paw protection in deeper snow. Dog booties usually cinch with Velcro. They are robust and fully insulated. If properly sized, they will protect your dog’s entire paw. You size from toenail tip to heel. You may want to make a game out of the booties at home before you venture out in the snow to get your dog acclimated to the snow booties. We supply both dog winter coats and boots in store!
Dog Hazards in the Snow
You also have to be fully cognizant of snow hazards. On a walk, ice melting substances are the greatest threat. They are toxic. If your dog licks his paws with some ice melting compound on them, he could get very ill. The way to keep this from happening and still enjoy your walks is a two-fold system. In your pocket, carry a bag you can seal that has some wet paper towels inside. You can use these to clean off your dog’s paws if they are trying to lick them after stepping on road salts or ice melting substances. At home, you can keep a small bowl of water and some paper towels handy right beside the door. Wet the paper towels and wipe off their paws when you first get inside.
Other hazards in the snow to consider are thin ice over streams or ponds, objects under the snow and gaping holes in the snow. It is imperative to maintain awareness of your pet’s location, so that they don’t get injured by hazards within the snow or ice or beneath ice sheets.
We all know how beautiful the winter can be in Colorado. If you are aware of your pet’s surroundings and behavior and keep up on their physical condition, you can both have a lot of fun in the colder seasons. Here at BlackPaw, we will help you find dog paw protection, a dog jacket or even dog boots for winter. Just stop by, and we will have just the right dog jacket, paw balm and dog booties to help your best friend conquer winter safely and comfortably.