Once temperatures drop and the air starts to become crisp, many of our thoughts turn to staying safe and healthy through winter and the Holidays and our dogs deserve the same comforts and considerations as us
Don’t be too quick to take Buddy or Bella to the groomers, at least for anything more than a tidy-up. A dog’s natural coat is specifically designed for warmth and comfort and is, to a degree, self-cleaning (although if they share my dogs’ delight in rolling in ‘smells’, a little help may be appreciated. Certainly by the rest of the family). Although if you have a tiny puppy or a particularly thin-skinned breed, there are some really cool coats available.
It’s always best to get a yearly check up for your dog, and the winter can be a great time to do so. A vet will check weight, and look for any other potential problems so that you can head them off before they get worse. Many dog owners forget that a yearly check up is vital to maintaining a healthy dog, so scheduling your check for the same time each year will help you to remember this – you can get their booster jabs at this time too.
Use high-visibility leads, collars and harnesses – the best use LED and are rechargeable like this one from Squeaker – as the nights get darker and make sure you have an identity tag on the collar. Dogs can easily get lost in the dark and even the most intelligent of pooches can become confused if his usually walking path suddenly looks unrecognisable in the dark. The most important information to have on the tag is your cell-phone number – after all, if you’re out searching, you’re not going to be answering at home.
Maintain garden fences – a panel can easily blow down, and your dog could be away before you notice. Likewise, double-check gates and fences every evening before you let them out.
Have a stock of designated ‘dog towels’ and ensure you dry your dog thoroughly after a run. A cold, wet dog is not comfortable – and potentially not healthy. Clean off any mud – it’s uncomfortable and can cause skin irritation as it dries and be sure that paws and belly are free of grit and grime as these can cause irritation. On that note take every care to keep your pets away from chemicals used for cleaning in the winter that can be very toxic indeed.
A dog needs his space – warm and quiet – where he is NOT to be disturbed. Make sure children know that once he’s in bed, he’s not available for cuddles or tug-of-war. Would they like it if someone shook them from slumber and insisted on affection or entertainment? Many dog bites could be avoided if we all remembered this.
That leads us neatly to the need to keep dogs and other pets calm and quiet when the house is full of noise, excitement and visitors over the winter holidays. This can be a very stressful time for animals that are used to just their own people and their own sounds.
Lastly, remember that many foods can be very harmful to dogs. Turkey bones can cause internal injuries, chocolate and raisins can poison a dog and nuts can cause choking – and that’s just actual food. Some winter plants can upset doggy tummies. Yes, your dog deserves a present – but make sure it’s specifically FOR a dog – better a toy as even specially-made dog treats can be fattening.
Look after your pets like the family they are and in turn they will make your Winter – and your life – so much richer.