Thursday, November 5, 2009

Preparing Your Dog for Winter!!

Winter time is quickly approaching and while the winter months can be lots of fun for you and your dog, there are a few precautions you should take to make sure that your dog is healthy and happy all winter long. Here are some recommended precautions.

*Increase Fido's caloric intake. It is wise to increase your pup's protein intake during the winter months. This helps your dog maintain a thick, warm coat. Don't shave your dog's coat. It might sound like common sense, but it is worth stating. Do not shave your buddy down to the skin. Fido needs a winter coat too.
*Don't let your dog air dry. Common sense again, but just for the record, if you wash your dog, dry him or her completely before you go outside. Also, when you get home from your walk in snowy or icy conditions, be sure to completely dry your pup's feet and legs. This is not only for their comfort but also to prevent them from ingesting excess salt and harmful anti-freeze type chemicals. Left alone, wet feet can also chap, crack and bleed.
*Make sure their bed is warm and insulated. Check their sleeping area for drafts. Give them a warm blanket and pillow to make sure their nights are comfy and cozy. You can also leave them a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel (to prevent burning). Your dog will love it.
*Get Fido some duds. Sweaters and coats are a good addition in very cold weather. It's not a Paris Hilton thing; it will truly improve your pup's quality of life. If you own a short-haired breed think about getting a turtle neck that extends the length of their body, all the way to the tail. They will appreciate it (and look stylin'!)
*Don't leave your best friend outside for prolonged periods. It's cold out there and they will suffer. It also increases their chances of getting sick. Keep your dog inside as much as possible, and when they do go outside, go with them. If you're too cold, changes are so are they.
*Keep your buddy on the leash. When the ground is frozen, it becomes easy for a dog to lose their scent, and thus easier for a dog to get lost. Because of this, more dogs go missing in the winter months so make sure they always have their tags on. This is a dangerous time of year for your pup to go on a walk-about. This is especially true if you live near a pond or lake.
*Don't leave your dog alone in the car. Just like the summer months, your car becomes a hostile environment in extreme weather. Dogs can freeze to death in a closed, frigid environment.
**Be careful with your puppy or elderly dog. Puppies cannot tolerate cold the way a full-grown dog can. Same goes for very elderly or sickly dogs. If it is quite cold out, you may need to use a puppy pads for house training and wait till spring to start moving them outside. Older dogs can go outside to relieve themselves if necessary but during extreme cold a puppy training pads is a great backup plan. Keep in mind that the cold can aggravate arthritis, so keeping an elderly dog inside can significantly improve their comfort.
*Get a winter veterinary checkup. It's a great time to make an appointment with your vet and check and see how your buddy's health is. This will help ensure everything is tip-top or make you aware of any conditions that might be intensified by the cold.
***Seek medical attention if your dog gets ill. Frostbite and hypothermia are the most common serious conditions your pup might contract in extremely cold temperatures. If you get the slightest suspicion that your dog is experiencing symptoms of either of these ailments, see a veterinary hospital immediately. Frostbite occurs when a part of the dog (usually paws, ears, or tail) get so cold that the tissue literally forms internal ice crystals. This can be very painful and cause permanent damage. It is also hard to spot right away so the best course of action is avoiding frost-bite educing situation. Signs of hypothermia are more apparent. Look for shivering, depression, lethargy, and weakness. The dog's muscles will eventually stiffen and their heart rate will drop. They may even become catatonic. Obviously, this is a scary and dangerous ailment; seek out hospitalization right away.
The winter months can be a lot of fun for you and your pet if you take the proper precautions. Have fun and be safe!
Kerry Perissi is the Founder & Vice President of MEDNET Direct, a leading provider of medical supplies as well as quality puppy pads. For more information and to shop medical supplies wholesale, please visit MEDNET Direct.

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