Keeping Our Dogs Safe In Winter
AS the temperatures drop and the snow and ice cover the ground, we need to be aware of the needs of our guides.
Keep in mind that if you are chilled, your dog will be freezing too. The cold increases with wind and humidity. Remember that tips of tails, ears, and paws can get frost bite.
If you are outside for a long period of time, here are some signs that your dog is uncomfortable in the frigid temperatures:
When you get inside, be sure to wipe down your dog's paws, legs, and abdomen.
Although our dogs tend to stay inside during sub-zero weather, certain canines can be susceptible to frost bite. Frost bite is the injury or death of tissue due to prolonged exposure to the cold. The areas most prone to frost bite are the tip of the tail, ears, scrotum, and toes. If a dog has frost bite on these parts, the area will feel very cold and stiff. Thawing of frost bitten body parts is very painful and requires veterinary care.
Dogs that are more prone to frost bite are those with short coats, who are taking certain medications, and who have particular medical conditions. Like humans, older dogs tend to be more sensitive to the cold.
If you wait for buses or need to walk some distance to reach your destination, consider getting your guide a coat or jacket. Jackets do come in larger sizes. For maximum warmth, you will want to put the harness on top of the coat.
When you do go out into the freezing temperatures, remember that the paws will feel the frigid pavement and be exposed to road salt. In order to prevent cracking of the pads, snow and ice caught in the hair of the paws, bleeding of the feet, and other hazards, consider fitting your guide with booties or find a cream or ointment that will protect the paws.
If our dogs do not have other forms of exercise, food intake may need to be reduced. You don't want your dog to go up a harness size due to lack of physical activity. If you tend to give treats, try giving something that has less calories. Vegetables are a good choice.
Please be safe this winter with your four-legged friend and guide!