Tuesday, October 16, 2012
CANINE WINTER PREPARATION
Even though the winter season is somewhat yet ahead of us, the temperatures are really beginning to drop off at night in many areas of the U.S. So I thought a reprint of an earlier article that I wrote in debsdogblogg.blogspot.com may be helpful for those of you dog lovers out there in preparation of the cold winter months ahead!
Cold weather can bring in many challenges to both human and canine. Just as it is important to keep ourselves, children and loved ones warm, comfortable and safe in cold weather months, it is also vital to make sure that our 4 legged friends are, as well. Since they can't talk to us directly(although we should be able to read their animal language fairly well), being on the alert to their needs is very important to survival and happiness. Especially puppies and small dogs are extra vulnarable to cold related illnesses, frostbite and death. Just because dogs have fur doesn't mean that they don't get cold, frostbitten or hyperthermia.
Here are a few tips to endsure that our puppies and dogs are properly cared for during the cold days of fall and winter:
1.WARM DRY SHELTER
This can vary depending upon your climate and living arrangements. For those living in rural areas a simple area in an accessible dry barn or shed can provide a nice place for your Fido or Fido's to find the appropriate shelter. A thick soft bed of dry straw is an excellent warm bedding. When it gets really cold out there, as it does in areas of the upper U.S., a heat lamp above the bedding area will provide enough heat for your dogs. When it's brutially cold out there chances are your dogs won't want to be romping around outside anyway, so will be happy to stay in the nice warm place that you have provided for them.
Of course, there are a number of very nice dog houses that can be purchased and outfitted with a portable ceramic heater, floor heating pad or straw(but I would use caution in using any electric heating source with straw in order to minimize fire risks). If you live in a town or city environment this will probably be your best choice if your dog is spending a lot of time outside during the cold weather months.
Some folks who have a nice slot of time in the summer and early fall may enjoy building their own custom dog house. If you are one of those people please keep in mind that this will take a real commitment of time and resources on your part.
At times the ol' thermometer dips down so far that it is unsafe for any pet to be outside for more than 5 to 10 minutes to avoid possible freezing limbs, toes, ears, and paw pads, getting frostbitten or freezing literally to death! In this case it is advisable to make a place inside your home for your dogs and other pets. Of course, Fido would really enjoy being in your living area with you, but if this is not acceptable to your living arrangements for one reason or another, then by all means providing him/her with a warm place in your basement or heated garage/porch would ensure that your dog friends are comfortable and safe.
Winter air is usually fairly dry and dogs are still in constant need of hydration. Since water may freeze quickly in outdoor containers it's vital to make sure that steps are taken to provide plenty of fresh drinkable water at all times. There are a variety of ways to do this. One is the electric dog dish that plugs into an outside electrical outlet. Another is a device that is actually designed to drop into the bottom of the dog dish and is plugged into an outside electrical outlet. Both types of devices will keep the water unfrozen enough that your dog will be provided with adequate drinking water. Of course, when the temperature reaches near and below zero it may require breaking up the ice regularly to keep it fluid. Water should be checked daily.
I have talked about the proper dog food diet for your dogs in previous articles, but the most important thing to realize is: "Your dogs and puppies need to have plenty of food available especially if they are living mostly outside." Dogs will generally eat quite a bit more food in the winter as they need more calories to keep them warmer. Many people have automatic self feeders for their dogs. Some just feed a larger quantity of food to their dogs each day at a regular feeding time. By all means, if you are going to be out-of-town overnight or longer.... please leave your dogs enough food, water and protection. Having a trusted friend or family member check on them a couple times a day is a really good idea, as well.
4. OUTER WEAR ACCESSORIES
Yes, it may sound silly to some, but those cute doggie booties and sweaters that you've seen advertised can be very useful in contributing to your doggie's comfort and protection. Even, large breed dogs can benefit from doggie booties because their paw pads can get frozen, frostbitten or cracked if they are out on snow and ice for extended periods, especially when taking your pooch for a walk in the winter. Also, they may protect against tearing a toenail on ice. Tearing a toenail can be very painful for your dog.
Providing plenty of room for excercise can go a long way in helping your dogs stay warmer in the cold weather. This way they will have the needed room to be able to keep moving around which contributes to healthy circulation. Taking them on daily walks is also an excellent way to contribute to the all around health of your dogs.
6. LOVE AND AFFECTION
Giving your puppies and dogs plenty of love and affection can also go a long way in providing proper care. They crave your acceptance and love, so giving them plenty of it is one of the most loving things you can do for them.
Hopefully, these tips will help you plan for the protection of your canines during the cold and wet days of the fall/winter season. As always, please ask your family veterinarian any questions that you have concerning the saftey and well being of your pets...............