For each of us, the relationships we have with our dogs is unique – shaped by the adventures we share. They are our snow-shoeing friends, our biking partners, our trail mates, and our constant companions. They never ask for much in return – just a reassuring pat and a gentle smile. A dog’s appetite for exploration and adventure allows us to see the world from their perspective and open our eyes to the wonderment of new places and experiences.
Unfortunately, the harsh climate of the beautiful Lake Tahoe area can prove to have adverse effects on our best buddies. A few simple precautions can help to ensure their safety and comfort even in the most harsh weather conditions. Winter is coming! Here are a few things to think about when your pet is out in the cold:
De-ice salt – This can be very toxic to their intestinal system. A dog can walk through it, carry it inside the house, and ingest it when they lay down and clean their feet. The chemical makeup of those compounds is very detrimental to the lining of the stomach and intestines. It can cause ulcers, bleeding, diarrhea, and sometimes death. Please be careful when walking your dog outside where these compounds are. Wash their feet immediately after coming inside or have them wear booties.
Ice/snow – Normally sounds like fun but the ice can build up in between the foot pads, on the hair surrounding the feet and belly area, and can cause cuts or burns to the skin. Keeping their hair free from ice and snow will protect their body from injuries that are easy to avoid.
Icy sidewalks/ground – I have seen many injuries to the knees, hips, and backs from walking or running on the ice and subsequently slipping. Any of these injuries are pricey to repair and your pet may not ever be the same. Make sure to take care of your friend when walking on icy surfaces.
Frost bite – If your pet is an outdoor dog the majority of the time, be aware that even the furriest of babies can have skin damage from too cold of conditions. Watch for reddened areas of their body – ears, toes, nose, eyelids – these can lose blood supply quickly and damage the tissues. Blackened, dry, crusty edges are an emergency for veterinary care. Please keep track of the changing weather and protect your dog from the extremes.
Our older dogs have another added condition that goes unnoticed quite frequently. Arthritis can be exacerbated with cold weather and you may see your dog moving slower during this time of year. Now is a great time to start your dog on a good glucosamine/chondroitin supplement that can give relief to the degrading cartilage in their body. It will supply the joints with nutrients to feed the remaining cartilage and also other vitamins and minerals to give anti-inflammatory/anti-oxidant support to those areas that need it most. There are prescription arthritis medications available as well to help with the pain and discomfort your dog may be experiencing.
Our furry families improve our own health; enrich our lives and our outlook on life. Following some simple safety steps can make a huge difference in making it a hard winter or in making it a mild winter for your dog. They give us such wonderful love and companionship – let’s make sure we do the same for them.
Happy Tails for the upcoming season!