Winterize Your Dog...
When winter finally shows its teeth, here's some canine related safety tips to remember.
that your dog has uncomfortable, painful feet include: whining, lifting
of paws or frequently stopping on walks. If you suspect frozen paws,
gently wash out the feet with warm water as opposed to brushing which
may injure frozen paw tissue.
Most dogs will benefit from direct paw protection such as booties and paw wax, available at local pet supply shops.
protect paws from sidewalk "ice melt", liberally apply paw wax to the
pads before heading out - usually works pretty well for the duration of
your outing. However booties will protect paws from ice melt as well as
paw injury caused by crusted ice or ice balls that collect in the hair
between paw pads and toes. While there have been notable improvements
over the past years, it’s advisable to ask your fellow dog owners which
type bootie stay put on a particular breed/mix.
hair between pads and toes may help prevent ice balls and abrasive crud
from plaguing your dog’s feet. However, there's some evidence that the
hairs serve a space-filling function, and perhaps act like the cilia in
that the hairs move around with walking, and help move some of the snow
or ice back out. It may also be reasonable to think that the hair helps
block ice-melting chemicals from making it all the way to the tender
skin that lines the deep areas between the toes. A quick wash of each
paw in a bucket of warm clear water, after being on the streets, is a
course you have to be able to stay upright on your own feet while your
dog tugs you down an icy sidewalk... FIDO members recommend anti-slip
'things' for shoes called Yak Trax - available on the Internet for
weather dangers include chills and discomfort, hypothermia and
frostbite. In general the shorter the hair/fur the greater the
protection your dog will need from the cold.
dogs, dogs with poor circulation, cardiovascular conditions, endocrine
disorders; elderly dogs and puppies may not do well in extreme
conditions. Dogs with diabetes may have impaired ability to cope with
cold weather and may also have an impaired ability to feel pain, and
thus not complain. For the overindulged hound, know that body fat
offers some protection from the cold.
When in doubt ask a fellow dog owner who has had winter experience with a similar breed/mix.
available from local shops while custom coats and pullovers can be
found on-line. Garments that cover the chest and abdomen as well as the
back, provide better protection for vital organs such as the heart and
lungs than do garments that primarily cover the back and sides. This is
especially true if you have an older dog who might tend to lie down on
the cold ground or snow. Remember to specify male or female when
ordering garments - your male dog will thank you!
When The Temperature Drops...
check your dog during walk and play by slipping your hand into their
garment to be sure they’re still warm beneath the sweater or coat. The
temperature difference you feel on your dogs clothed areas verses
unclothed areas will often be quite apparent. Feel the chest, abdomen,
sides, and front of the neck. Feel the feet and especially the ears.
in humans, dog’s ear tips are susceptible to frostbite. Frequently feel
the dog’s ears with your bare hands to be certain his ears are not to
cold. A muff over the upper neck and lower head can insulate against
the cold. You can make a head muff for your dog by cutting the top off
a long acrylic human hat so that it becomes a long cylinder shape;
simply pull it over the head. Muffs are also commercially available.
rub the direct area. Consult your vet! Dogs uncomfortable with the cold
may be in a hurry to get back inside, therefore may not fully relieve
themselves and may have frequent accidents. If your doggie becomes
chilled, get them inside immediately; handle gently and re-warm in dry
bedding and blankets. Better yet snuggle up with your pal using your
own body heat for comfort.
contrasting colors against the snow that will help ensure that your dog
is seen by drivers who must deal with reduced visibility from weather
conditions or windshields encumbered by condensation, mud or ice. In
addition, a driver may see the person walking the dog but not see the
dog; or not see all the dogs if more than one animal is being walked.
Make sure they stay ahead of you when crossing.
Ice on the Lake? Big No No!
leashed up near park waterways and lake. When there is snow cover, it
may be hard to determine where land ends and ice begins. And all those
ducks walking around out in the center of the lake may prove to be a
fatal attraction for your dog. Frozen ponds ALWAYS have thin areas.
Falling through ice can be fatal to both dog and the owner who attempts
Electrified Sidewalk Plates/Manhole Covers...
We'll spend some time on this one...
encounters on the sidewalk just may be one of the most unrecognized and
under-diagnosed problems facing the urban dog during the winter season.
Salt applied to icy streets and sidewalks makes its way to the
electrical infrastructure below the surface where it corrodes aging
wires and generally enhances conductivity of stray voltage.
few years ago a dog was electrocuted here in Park Slope on Third Street
just above 4th Avenue. An unused, unsealed lamppost connection buried
in the concrete leaked live voltage all the way to the surface.
Most dog owners will simply not recognize stray voltage when it happens
unless a dog is shocked so severely that he yelps, can't move; shake
violently or the human feels an electrical shock as well. The reaction
of a stoic well behaved dog who suddenly bolts or pulls may be
dismissed, while the lesser trained dog who pulls all the time will be
seen as behaving in character consistent with his disposition.
Again a few years ago, another dog leaped into the air seemingly for no
reason, a behavior way out of character. Immediately stray voltage was
suspected yet there was no apparent injury to his paws. Yet a Great
Dane who had been walking next to him was unaffected, having apparently
just missed the voltage spot. Calling 311 actually produced an
immediate response from the Fire Dept as well as Con Edison. Con Ed
expressed concern for the dog's welfare and later confirmed the
presence of stray voltage that had even electrified the metal areaway
fence on the corner house! Con Edison did a lot of refurbishing of
underground power lines at many local intersections during the course
of that winter.
Again look for the following warning signs...
Your dog may suddenly bolt for no reason. They may appear frozen in a
spot, shaking violently. They may have a street lamp or spot on the
sidewalk that they’re afraid of. These are all good indicators of
trouble brewing. Stray electricity is invisible so give your dog the
benefit of the doubt. If your dog wants to avoid a section of sidewalk
it may be for good reason.
DO NOT reach in to assist your dog!
Touching your dog if they collapse may prove fatal to you as well.
Several years ago, a woman died trying to rescue her dogs from an
electrified metal grating in the East Village and the rescuing officers
were also severely shocked.
Reconsider letting you dog urinate on lampposts. The traditional fire
hydrant is a lot safer. Take a look at the street lamps in your area.
Are there loose wires visible? Are all of the panels in place or is
there obvious need of repair? Call 311 immediately. Rubber soled dog
shoes or boots probably offer substantial protection.
Finally: Don’t Eat Green Snow; Blue Snow…
snow is bad enough but green/blue snow represents icy puddles of
antifreeze. Antifreeze poisoning is a true medical emergency that kills
far more pets than electrocution.
Antifreeze is sweet tasting, and occasionally gets spilled or leaked in
the street and may be swallowed by dogs sneaking a puddle to relieve
thirst or just licking their paws after walking through it. If you
suspect antifreeze poisoning contact a veterinarian immediately!