My littlest fur baby (Jensen a 1.5 year old Red Heeler) experienced his first snow last week, and it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. After running in and out of the room 3 times trying to get my attention, I finally got up to see what it was that he wanted. He ran to the living room and stood there growling in front of the bay doors that lead into the backyard. Curious, I got down to his level to see what he was growling at, there was nothing but giant snowflakes falling from the sky. I opened the door and he darted onto the patio, threw his head back, and howled! After a dramatic pause, he bowed to his new found toy, barked, and began to jump and snap at the air to catch these mysterious white flakes falling from the sky. I must have been laughing so hard because Jensen would pause to look at me, ears like satellites, head tilted to the side in wonderment at my silly noise making. His sisters, Sadie and Lola, joined him after a few minutes. They all continued frolicking around the yard making puppy angels, tossing the icy flakes around with their noses, and playing chase while bouncing around like little foxes in the snow.
As I played with my dogs in our little PNW winter storm, and after having to trick Jensen into going inside before he turned into a little pupcicle, I began to think about all of the things I needed to do to keep my dogs safe while playing outside in the cold/snow:
WATCH OUT FOR ICE!
Here in the PNW we tend to get snow, then that all so lovely freezing rain. Be on the look out for ice patches when your pooch is outside as dogs can easily slip and break their bones or strain a joint just as people can. Also, be careful when walking your dog on a leash because when they slip on ice, you both may fall!
NO SNOW CONES FOR FIDO
As much as your dog may love eating the snow or catching flying snowballs, like my Jensen likes to do, this can prove to be unsafe for your pet. Antifreeze can smell sweet and taste even better to animals, but it is HIGHY TOXIC. Rock salt, while not toxic to your pet, can easily get mixed in with the snow and can cause an upset stomach. Lastly, eating large amounts of it can also dramatically lower your pooch’s core temperature and trigger hypothermia.
PROTECT THEIR PAWS
Some dogs are made for colder weather (i.e Huskies have thicker pads as well has coarser hair); however, if your dog is not designed for this, limit their time outside and be sure to dry their paws when they come inside. Treat any cracked pads with a moisturizer specifically made for your pooch's pretty paws, or try a cream made for cow udders to sooth their pads.
CLEAR SOME SNOW!
To make potty time quicker and easier, shovel an area where your dog likes to do their business so they know where to go (and your house stays piddle free). If they do have an accident in the house, try taking them out more often and rewarding them when they come back inside (essentially you will be potty training your dog again as this crazy white stuff falling from the sky is a new situation for them, which requires a new routine).
If your pups are like mine, they require a ton of exercise! It can be difficult to get out and get moving with your dog when it is cold out; but, staying inside may lead to pent-up energy which can potentially lead to destructive or nervous behaviors! Once my dogs were acclimated to the cold and they were used to wearing their fancy new winter coats, we started back up on our regular walks and they have been spending more time outside each time they go out. When it snowed, I built Jensen a little obstacle course which he just loves and his sisters tried to destroy! If it is just too cold for your dog, try puzzle feeders, peanut butter or other treat filled Kongs, or simply playing hide and seek in your house; anything to keep them busy and entertained on these cold days!
There really is nothing more heartwarming than watching your dog play in the snow! Best of luck with our up coming winter storm!