Winter Care for Dogs

Winter Care for Dogs

Winter is a fabulous time to take your dog out for a walk; the fresh air will do you both good. But as the mercury drops in the thermometer, certain health hazards are created that every dog owner needs to be aware of.

At The Way of the Dog, we do not aim to sensationalise issues or scaremonger. Our articles are focused on our experiences in dog world and informing dog owners of how best to maintain the health and wellbeing of their canine friend. This article is intended to inform you of possible risks to your dog’s health.

Dog Health Hazards in Winter

Anti-Freeze

A common winter related ailment in dogs is anti-freeze poisoning. Anti-freeze contains the toxin ethylene glycol, which is sweet and irresistible to dogs. They’ll lick up drips from leaking car coolant systems and brake systems or drink from contaminated puddles and other water sources.

It does not take a significant amount of ethylene glycol to cause fatal damage to a dog, as low as 2-3ml per pound of the dog’s weight.

Dog owners should:

  • NEVER decant anti-freeze into another container.
  • Store anti-freeze in a secure place with lids securely closed.
  • Check cars for leaks and if found get them fixed.
  • Check their driveways, parking spaces and garages for contamination.
  • Use a funnel when topping up anti-freeze to reduce spills.
  • Dispose of old/unused anti-freeze at an approved waste management facility.

Anti-freeze poisoning occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the animal typically appears lethargic, disoriented, uncoordinated and groggy. Symptoms usually appear 30 minutes to one hour after ingestion and can last for several hours.

The second phase, which can last up to three days, is characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, kidney failure, coma and death.

For dogs exposed to antifreeze, the first few hours are critical. They should see a vet as soon as antifreeze ingestion is suspected.

Rock Salt

Rock salt used to grit roads and paths in winter can be a danger to dogs if they lick it from their paws or fur. Even small amounts of pure salt can be dangerous, but the exact quantities of salt in rock salt are variable. Most cases are a result of a dog licking it’s paws and fur after walking through a salted area. The salt irritates the skin and paws and the dog is simply attempting to remove the irritation.

Dog owners should:

  • Avoid using rock salt in areas their dogs walk in their own gardens.
  • Avoid heavily salted areas in public.
  • Rinse and dry their dog after winter walks (always rinse down the body and legs, pay attention to and in-between pads).
  • Be aware of excessive paw licking after a winter walk.

Ingestion can result in a high blood sodium concentration which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases there is a risk of convulsions and kidney damage.

Any dog suspected to have ingested rock salt must be seen by a vet.

The Cold

Older dogs, small breed dogs, dogs with short fur and puppies can be especially sensitive to the cold weather. Dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. In addition, all dogs can be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if conditions are cold enough and/or the length of exposure is long enough.

Dog owners should:

  • Assess the type and age of dog and it’s susceptibility to the cold by consulting a vet.
  • Purchase and use suitable protection based on this assessment.
  • Monitor their dog regularly when exercising them in cold weather.
  • NEVER leave your dog outside unsupervised without a heated shelter.

If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done.

If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.

Snow

Many dogs love a bit of snow. The mixture of curiosity and the sensations involved can lead many dogs to appear excited and exuberant. This maybe the case, but snow can also conceal a few doggy perils.

Whilst many of the risks posed by snow to a dog’s wellbeing are the result of the cold, there are a few extra points to consider.

Dog owners should:

  • Cut the hair between a dogs pads. These hairs trap snow that can ball into a small ice-cube nestled between the pads. If your dog refuses to move or appears lame on a snowy day, check pads first.
  • Remove snow and ice build up from a dog’s pads, legs and under carriage regularly to prevent it freezing to ice as this becomes painful.
  • If this snow build up becomes ice, remove with a warm (not hot) damp cloth.
  • Be aware of snow drifts, banks and cornices.
  • Monitor their dog regularly when exercising them in the snow.

If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.

Ice

When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. Dogs will often attempt to walk on ice with no concept of the thickness of ice or there being water below. If they were to fall through the ice, some breeds of dog will succumb to the effects of the cold and then drown in a matter of seconds.

Dog owners should:

  • Avoid areas with frozen bodies of water.
  • If in the vicinity of a frozen body of water, keep your dog on a lead.
  • If your dog ventures onto a frozen body of water, coax them back without causing panic.
  • If your dog falls through ice, attempt to coax them back to land or use material nearby to provide an aid to exiting the water (buoyancy aids, a fallen branch, a fence panel, etc).
  • If you retrieve your dog, get them dry and warm as soon as possible.
  • NEVER enter the water to rescue your dog. More than 50 per cent of ice-related drownings involved an attempted rescue of another person or a dog (ROSPA).

If your dog has entered a frozen body of water and you suspect your dog has hypothermia or any other ailments, consult your vet immediately.

Enjoy the Winter Together

I know, it sounds like we’ve got our health and safety clipboard out and banned you and your dog having any fun together in the winter; this isn’t the case.

At The Way of the Dog we actively encourage the (at least) daily exercising of your dog, whatever the weather. Follow the points we’ve made and you will have minimised any risk to your dog’s health and wellbeing during one of the most spectacular times of the year.

Contribution by Heppiness
Image credits Scott Costello Flikr

Here Comes the Sun – Dogs Die in Hot Cars!

Here Comes the Sun – Dogs Die in Hot Cars!

It takes only a matter of minutes for you to lose your loving companion when left in the oven that could be your car!  The sun is out and it is beautiful, but the sun beating down on a parked vehicle with a dog trapped inside is likely to end in a horrendous death.  Depending upon the outside temperature it could take a matter of minutes before the inside of the vehicle is so hot that a dog will die an agonising and painful death.19382550_l

“Even on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly soar to as high as 120 degrees. Shock sets in as the dog’s internal temperature rises, and death can occur in just 15 minutes. It’s a gruesome, terrifying way to die—dogs struggle to escape the vehicle, often salivating heavily, losing control of their bladder and bowels, and clawing the car windows so violently that their paws become bloodied.” (PETA, 2013)

Dogs-DieNow that the summer has arrived it is fitting that we remind ourselves of how dangerous the sun can be to our faithful companions.  There is no sense in taking chances, a window left open sufficiently to allow some air circulation will not save your dog if the temperature soars, dogs can still die with the window open.  Each summer people take risks believing that their dog will be safe only for the unthinkable to happen.  The RSPCA report that they receive over 6000 calls a year concerning distressed dogs left in cars.

Don't Cook Dog PosterIn 2011 the Dogs Today magazine launched a “Don’t Cook Your Dog” campaign urging dog owners to join.  The Way of the Dog would like to take the opportunity to remind people of this campaign but more importantly to remind people of the need to protect their dogs from the effects of the sun.  A dog can start to suffer in as little as two minutes when trapped in a hot car; this can lead to damaged organs, brain damage, and death.

Protect your dog from the sun and do not leave it in the car on any occasion, there is no safe time limit, the only safe place is outside the car.

Attached are some interesting articles that relate to dogs being left to die in cars.  There is also a poster attached that you can download and publicise courtesy of Dog’s Today magazine.

Related Articles:

http://www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/dontcookyourdog/

http://www.peta.org/blog/spread-word-dogs-die-hot-cars/

http://www.vetsonline.com/news/latest-headlines/veterinary-practices-urged-to-support-poster-campaign.html

http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/dogs/health/dogsinhotcars

 

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