In a recent interview Steve Vernik pet enthusiast & manufacturer of SafePaw, was asked 5 interesting questions regarding pet safety in winter weather.
1. What winter pet (dog) supplies should retailers stock this season to ensure a happy, safe dog walk?
During the winter there are a few concerns that need to be addressed. The first issue is that snow and ice are slippery. Chances are you are not going for a run in these situations. Dogs have four legs, humans have two, so the first thing you should keep in mind is your own safety to make sure that you are stabile on your feet. There are stories where people slip while walking their dogs for many reasons including dogs pulling or changing direction and the dog runs off. Make sure you have good shoes or boots on.
Another concern is that many people carelessly use salt on their sidewalks and walkways, also salt trucks spread salt on the roads. People should avoid roads when possible for many safety reasons. Stick to the sidewalk. Even on the sidewalk there is probably salt, unless the homeowner or property manager used a pet safe ice melter like Safe Paw. While walking around the neighborhood you are bound to come across salt ice melter and that is a serious problem. The salt not only can heat up enough to burn the dogs sensitive paw pads, but they can dry out the pads and cause major irritations. The dogs like many animals, are attracted to salty flavors and my lick or ingest the salt. Not only can this cause burn and irritations around the mouth, they may get it in and around their eyes. Also, the road salt used is not like table salt. There are many dangerous impurities including sulfur and other toxic chemicals that can cause some serious internal damage.
Because it is hard to avoid chloride ice melters there are a few products on the market that really help. Dog booties are a great idea, but many dogs take a while to adjust to having booties on and it takes a lot of patience for the dogs to accept it. Also, many do not fit great and may come off, or slush gets in them and they get ruined. Shop around for a good fitting pair. There is a brand called PAWS that has a balloon looking paw booties, these stay on pretty well, but there are also other options including balms and waxes but they come off a little to easily.
Many people, for all these reasons, choose to let their dogs out in their back yard and here is a place where many dogs run outside and risk slips and falls and hip related dangers. It is important to properly maintain surfaces outside. Safe Paw ice melter is the only 100% safe ice melter that won’t damage your property, decking, concrete, and is completely safe for your pets and children even if ingested. Safe Paw also works better than most ice melters on the market.
After taking a dog for a walk, one should always wash off the dogs paws with luke warm water and if possible, apply mushers wax or another paw suitable balm or wax to moisturize and protect the paws. Make sure it is non-toxic as many dogs will lick their paws while they clean themselves from going outside.
Also, many people like to leave their dogs out for a while or in a kennel. Dogs should have a mat to lay on that is in some sort of sheltered space, preferably with a heater inside. Also, dogs need water in the winter as well, but many water bowls will freeze unless you buy the ones with heating elements. Also, because generating heat requires energy, make sure to have food for the dog.
2. Can dogs get frostbite? If so, how can it be prevented and (if need be) treated?
Yes, dogs can get frostbite… It is actually very common. The first places we can easily find frostbite is on the dogs ears where there is less blood flow, the tips of tails and between paw pads (ice and snow may clump here and freeze). Frostbite for dogs is very similar to humans, look for greying skin or any discolorations that might signal irritation. Many people think dogs have fur coats and they are fine to be left outside for a while. Unless your dog is specifically bred for snowy winter environments, there should be a maximum 15 minute time of being outdoors. Even if your dog is bred for the winter weather, you should limit the dogs time outside.
To treat frostbite, you should keep in mind that it can be very painful. Sometimes the nerves freeze before the dogs can feel the total damage done. Once the nerves start thawing out, it can be very painful. Take your time and slowly thaw and warm and frostbitten areas with luke warm water and a cloth. Using very warm water creates a painful drastic change. You should take your dogs to the vet for a check-up soon because the areas can get infected either by the dog scratching the wound or from the cracks in the skin from severe damage.
3. What are some warning signs your dog is cold or uncomfortable during winter weather?
If the dog is outside and is standing at the door to come in, let the dog in. Also, if the dog is shivering and the dog is not normally an anxious dog, then bring the dog in immediately. If the dog is hiding behind something or you can easily find your dog, it may be trying its best to hide from the cold. Many dogs even burrow into the snow for some escape from the wind and cold. Keep an eye on your dog and if the weather is too cold for you, it is most likely too cold for your dog as well. Minimize the time your dog is outdoors during the winter. If the dog is wet, bring the dog inside and dry off the dog.
4. How can dogs stay extra warm and cozy during outdoor winter activities?
Dog coats are very helpful to keeping dogs warm and cozy outside, but still we have to be mindful of exposed parts like legs, paws, tail, ears, head, and even the belly. A water proof jacket will help keep the dog dry which is important. Limit the dogs time outside, keep the dog active and when the dog seems to get tired or wants to take a break, bring the dog to somewhere warmer like inside the house, or into a warm car. Make sure to have food for energy and water as well.
5. Do you have any additional comments about winter care for dogs while they are outside on walks?
There are many hazards that pets face during the winter. Monitor your dog’s behavior. Some additional things to keep in mind is that anti-freeze is very dangerous to dogs although there are some brands that are designed to be non-toxic and these brands will proudly display this. Dogs are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of anti-freeze and will lick it and can get violently ill and hopefully not die. Also, outdoor cats love to find warm spots outside and frequently find their way into car engine compartments and when the engine starts, there could be a nasty problem. Always honk the horn a couple times and wait a minute before starting the car. Also, look under the car to see if any animals may be sheltering under the car.
Steve Vernik – Director of Operations for Gaia Enterprises, Manufacturers of Safe Paw Ice Melter and Pet Enthusiast