Winter Hazards for Outdoor Dogs

The winter months can pose many risks for our canine companions. Here are a few things to keep our pets safe this season.

Housing:Be sure to provide adequate shelter and warmth for your outdoor dogs. A dog house that is well insulated and large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around is ideal. Anything larger than that makes it difficult to keep your pet warm. For additional warmth, use old blankets for bedding material. Blankets are ideal since they’re easy to remove and wash to maintain a clean and dry environment all winter long. Even dogs that are kept partially outdoors in kennels require protection from cold windy weather. Provide a doghouse or secure a tarp onto a portion of the kennel to create a windbreak.

Hydration:is a must in winter conditions. Dogs cannot eat snow as a source of water so water bowls need to be checked regularly or consider a heated water bowl to maintain a source of unfrozen drinking water.

Exercise:pets that exercise outdoors in the colder weather expend a lot of energy in order to maintain normal body temperatures. If you are planning a hike or some type of outdoor activity in the chilly weather, be sure to bring extra food. Dogs kept outdoors need about 30% more food than they require during the warmer months.

Antifreeze:can leak from car radiators and is very tasty to dogs because of its sweet flavor. Unfortunately, this chemical is also very dangerous and can severely damage kidney function. If your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, please contact Capitol Illini immediately!

Ice:may be pretty, but it’s pretty hard to walk on. Slippery sidewalks are a main source of injury during the harsh winter months. Our older pets that may also have arthritis have more of a difficult time maintaining balance resulting in injuries. Guide your pet to more of a grassy/sandy or gravel area. Booties may also help with traction when venturing outdoors

Grooming:your pet is important even during the winter months. If left unkempt, matting on the fur can easily trap in moisture and leave sores on the skin. Dogs with matted hair are less able to maintain their body temperature. Hair between the toes can pick up snow or ice which can irritate or lacerate the paws. Sidewalks that have salt or de-icing chemicals can cause irritation and inflammation to their paws.

Bring your dog indoors if he is shivering. Pay particular attention to older dogs as well as puppies. Older dogs will have special health considerations to address, especially arthritis. The cold can aggravate arthritic conditions and icy ground poses real dangers. Whenever possible, keep older dogs indoors.