As another season of cold temperatures and snow approaches, veterinarian and resident in the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Service Lauri-Jo Gamble offers some advice on how to keep your dog cozy in the cooler temperatures as well as ways to keep your active dog in shape throughout the winter months.
“After four or five months of rest during cold weather, your dog’s muscles will weaken. This can set him up for an injury if his activity level suddenly jumps significantly during the first days of spring. So here are a few activities to enjoy with your dog during the winter season to keep him active and strong:
- Cross-country skiing, skijoring, snowshoeing, walking;
- Indoor agility, obedience, nose work, cart pulling training;
- Hydrotherapy or warm water dog pool;
- Indoor dog park or play time at the local doggy day care.
“If you decide to practice an outdoor activity with your dog, here are a few products/tips to keep him warm and safe:
- Pet coat or sweater;
- Pet boots;
- Shorten the hair between the paw pads to help prevent ice balls from forming between and around the paw pad, apply paw balm to the pads before each walk, after the walk wipe your dog’s paw with a lukewarm washcloth, then apply another layer of the balm to soothe any irritation and to keep them from drying out (if not using boots);
- More frequent nail trim as less contact with concrete during walks;
- Be aware that salt and most deicers can be toxic to our canine friends. Try to keep your dog away from roads and sidewalks that have been heavily treated with salt and chemical deicers.
“Dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just as people are, so use common sense as to how long your walks can be. Keep them short and watch for signs of hypothermia such as shivering, anxiety and moving slowly.”