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Winter Safety Tips from Zuke's

Zuke's resident veterinarian provides tips to keep dogs safe this winter.

Here is some important advice to keep our dogs safe in winter weather. The tips are provided by Zuke's veterinarian, Jennifer Deming, DVM.

If you walk your dog in the snow and/or ice, make sure you take proper care of their paws. If you have a dog with hairy toes, keep them trimmed and cleaned and always check to make sure ice crystals have not become stuck between them. You also want to regularly check their paws for cracks and cuts which can happen because a dog's pads can dry out and crack just like some areas of a human's skin. Protect your dog's paws with some cold weather booties, which you can purchase at most pet supply stores as well as outdoor recreation stores. Another option is musher's wax, which can be applied to your dog's feet and is a good alternative if your dog simply won't tolerate the dog boots.

There are many substances on both rural and urban streets in winter that can be highly toxic to your dog, such as ice melt and salt products. There's also the danger of anti-freeze dripping and pooling on the ground. Always be cognizant of where you are walking your dog and wipe your dog down after a walk to get rid of any chemicals that might end up on their fur. Having your dog wear a coat can help keep their fur safe from possibly toxic chemicals getting onto them and ingested when they attempt to clean themselves.

Dr. Demming also recommends dog coats for breeds that are less able to handle the cold than others. If you have a short-haired breed like a Boxer or a Chihuahua, they will not tolerate the cold for as long or as well as a northern breed like a Malamute. She recommends being vigilant about the signs of cold intolerance in your dogs and to bring them inside ASAP if you see them shivering uncontrollably and displaying lethargy. Hypothermia can be very serious if not treated in time, and there is also the risk of frost bite.

Another important point that she reminds us of is the critical importance of your dog wearing up-to-date ID and microchips. If your dog gets lost during a winter excursion with you, they are not able to smell as well or see as well in heavy snow conditions and that increases the chance of you both becoming separated. Stay safe by making sure tags have your correct information and are securely fastened to your dog's collar, and that your most up-to-date information is on file with your microchip company.

For more winter tips from Dr. Deming and Zuke's, visit theĀ Zuke's website.


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