Thursday, January 2, 2014

Winter Tips and Paw Protection for Dogs

In an all natural, normal winter environment, dog owners may have less to worry about, but the reality is those environments are becoming less and less and therefore, more and more dogs are exposed to harmful winter related items every year. By following a few simple winter tips and paw protection ideas, you can help your dog stay active and healthy all winter long.

Even if you are an eco-friendly dog owner and keep safe and natural products around your home, getting your dog outside for a walk during the winter months requires some planning to keep your dog safe since other people may be using harmful salts and anti-freeze solutions. The acronym PULL is an easy way to remember some key winter tips for your dog.

Protect paws- use all natural balm or paw covers to keep your dog's paws protected from ice, snow, cinders, and salt
Use a leash-even the best trained dogs should be on a leash in the winter due to frozen water and thick snow areas that can be dangerous if a dog runs loose
Leave it-make sure you dog knows this command so you can avoid your dog licking anti-freeze or eating salt
Limit time-get your dog outside, but make sure they have a sweater if they have short hair, and go for two short walks versus one long walk to allow your dog to warm up in between

Having lived in both a city and rural area during the winter months, I understand the pros and cons of both for dog owners. If you live in a rural area, like I do now, getting outside in the cold with your dog for a little every day may be fairly easy. The pros here are that you can just go out, walk in the snow covered grass and have a good time together and come back in. (I do keep a towel by the door and wipe their paws when they come in to help keep their paws healthy and my rugs clean). All of my dogs love playing in the snow and being outside in the winter, and since none of them have long fur, keeping everyone dry is pretty simple as well. The only real con is that sometimes they just don't want to come back in.
However, if you live in a city there are a lot more cons than pros. First, you have to be prepared to walk on unshoveled sidewalks, icy areas, and heavily salted sidewalks and roads. (It will take more than a towel at your door to clean your dogs paws after walking on all that)! You can buy paw protector boots to put on your dog, but keeping your dog's paws clean and putting a balm on every day before and after your walk, can be just as effective for city dogs. The second hassle for city dogs during the winter is keeping your dog warm. From cars driving by and splashing up water, to melting snow and mud, your dog will likely need extra grooming during the winter months. If your dog gets salt caught up in fur around their paws or stuff around their eyes, you could end up with big problems down the road, so daily grooming is important for city dogs. Finally, walks may need to be shorter in the winter months, so it is important to find physical activities you and your dog can do indoors to keep them active all winter long. Hide and Seek type games and indoor obstacle courses are a great place to start.
Although winter offers a challenge to dog owners, it is important to still get your dog outside and keep them active all year long. Hopefully, by following the PULL winter tips you will keep your dog and their paws safe.


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