Winter is a wonderland – our four-legged friends too need that extra care to keep them warm, hygienic and safe during this time.
Many fellow beings live with a misconception that their pets have a coat of fur so that they are able to withstand the cold better than humans. This is not the case. Like us, these fur-coated creatures too are accustomed to the warmth of indoor shelter and cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on us – humans. Puppies or senior dogs with arthritis or those who are sick with compromised immunity or renal conditions require close attention. Here are few tips to keep your furry being healthy and happy in this winter wonderland.
Outdoor fun activities when the sun shines: Keep her indoors, for the daily doses of parkland walks, you could resort to walking them out in late mornings or early evenings rather than going out in early wee hours or late nights. You may also enjoy fun games when sun is out; this partial sun bath shall energise both you and your pet with much needed vitamin D. Play fetch with toys, not sticks as they can cause choking and severe injuries. So, if your dog likes to chew and chase, pack a Frisbee, tennis ball or other toy and play together in the sun. When outdoors with your pet, watch for theses signs of exposure: Whining, Shivering, Appearing Anxious, Slowing Down, Stopping Movement and Looking for Places to Burrow.
If you notice any of these signs, return your pet indoors immediately.
Bundle up dressing: Long-haired breeds like Huskies do better in cold weather than short-haired breeds like Dachshunds. Bundle up your dog. Dress your dog in a warm coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck; it should cover her back from the base of her tail and also protect her belly. Provide extra beddings such as rugs/blankets and ensure that they don’t sleep on uncarpeted areas or floors.
No overfeeding please: Because it takes more energy to stay warm when it’s cold. Your dog may be eyeing your food, understand those signs and feed him with small meals at regular intervals. However, make sure that diet is non-fatty and non-sugary. Likewise, water is vital for maintaining your pet’s health. Dogs can dehydrate even in winters as they do in summers.
Care for feet and grooming a must: Frosting is a serious problem during winter, especially for paws, tips of tails and ears. Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winters, dogs tend to get cracks in their pads.
Trim your dog’s paws regularly in this season. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between your dog’s toes and under his feet during the winter to prevent ice buildup between the paw pads. Thickened fur coat and brushing hairs regularly helps insulation.
Don’t leave them unattended! You should also not let your dog wander too far during his walks. Never leave him unattended.
Watch for the signs of frostbite and hypothermia: The risk of these conditions is especially high when the temperature dips. Frostbite typically affects poorly insulated body parts such as the tips of the ears and is evidenced by skin that is pale or red, swollen and painful or numb. Signs of hypothermia include slow pulse, shallow breathing, disorientation, collapse and unconsciousness. If you think your dog has either, call your vet immediately!
What to do for hypothermia:
- Get your pet indoors and warm.
- Wrap your pet in blankets and take him to the veterinarian.
- Your veterinarian will, if necessary, monitor your pet’s heart rate and blood pressure and give warm fluids through an IV.
It’s known that dogs have innate art of survival; however your loyal friend needs that extra care. After all, who doesn’t want our buddy wagging his tail and leaping up to us in cold weather to give that priceless cuddling experience!
(Mayuresh Abhyankar is from Medical Services at SAVA Healthcare Limited).