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Cats and Dogs, Critter Chatter, Healthcare, Safety

CRITTER CHATTER: Preparing for Winter

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

Black and tan dog, licking his face, in the snow

And it’s sure been a cold, cold winter; and the wind ain’t been blowing from the south

The Rolling Stones Winter

We’ve had three nights of frost warnings and a bomb cyclone, and Charlotte and I no longer enjoy walking the beach on Lake Champlain as daylight shortens and chilling temperatures abound. But these changes don’t mean that pet owners’ lifestyles must become sedentary and limited to indoor activities. It can be difficult to keep from going stir crazy during long, dark days, but there are some simple ways to stay active and engaged.

Preparing for Winter

Continue to enjoy the outdoors

Instead of wrapping up in a blanket and turning up the heat, bundle yourself and your dog up and head out for a trip to the dog park, a hike in the woods, or just a trip around the neighborhood. Long-haired dogs may not need a coat, but it’s a good idea to use one for short-haired or small breeds. If your dog tolerates booties, they can help prevent built-up ice between toes or contact with potentially hazardous ice melts used on roads and streets. If not, rinse all four paws in warm water when you return from the outside. If you have a very energetic dog that requires a lot of exercise, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing – unless you live in the south.

Expand indoor activities

Charlotte enjoys a weekly visit to doggy daycare so she can run about and visit with her peeps. Of course, you can always invite your pet’s friends over to your house for a romp or two. Both dogs and cats seem to enjoy chasing after the fast-moving dot generated by a laser pointer. Just be careful where are you point it to prevent furniture tipping and lamp breaking. If you are really inventive, try making an indoor obstacle course. New toys and food puzzles that incorporate a favorite treat or peanut butter into a hollowed rubber object can be fun for “fetch” activities. A game of tug-of-war is fun as long as your dog’s teeth are in good shape and you or your pet doesn’t “tug” too hard. Indoor exercise time is a great occasion to reinforce obedience training.

Types of winter wear

  • Wool sweaters that are 100% natural, non-allergenic and made with organic wool and natural dyes from plants and fruits but without harsh chemicals, artificial colors or plastics help keep your dog or cat warm while staying breathable and safe. Durable and naturally dirt-resistant properties are a must. Dogs with long coats are more comfortable with thinner sweaters, as are very active dogs where too heavy a coat could cause overheating.

  • Waterproof coats made with a 100% water-resistant nylon shell keeps water out. Brightly colored ones help with visibility in dim or dark light. If temperatures are very cold, breathable waterproof fabric with fleece lining protects your pet from both cold and rain. In regions of heavy snowfall and harsh weather conditions, coats made with an outer layer of waterproof breathable material, a middle layer of quilt batting and an inner layer of fleece are perfect.

  • Woolen socks or silicone boots should be worn where there is ice or snow buildup or on walkways upon which ice melt has been spread. Be sure that the straps are tight enough to keep the boots secure, but not so tight to impair circulation.

  • Reflective collars are always a good idea, especially during the winter when it’s darker outside.

A positive attitude, creative planning, and the proper gear can help you and your pet get through a cold, cold winter…and have fun.

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a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden Doodle named Charlotte.

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