Keeping our dogs safe and secure is a full-time responsibility. They are bundles of inquisitive energy, whose curiosity can sometimes be a danger itself. This is especially so during cooler seasons when dogs are more vulnerable to illness and the cold.
1. Illness Prevention
Unfortunately, our dogs get ill. This is especially the case for older dogs. Thankfully, there are things you can do to keep your dog healthy and prevent illness during cooler seasons. Foremost is regular visits to a veterinarian. They are an essential guide to identifying necessary lifestyle changes and prevent issues from escalating. Keeping your dog active and on a well-managed diet will also foster good health and minimize the risk of illness. Focus on a nutrient-rich, balanced diet free of excess snacking and harmful foods like chocolate, raisins, and onions. If your dog is older and has arthritis, give them a natural joint lubricant during colder weather. Finally, a clean home environment free of harmful germs and dust is the foundation for an illness-free dog. Carpets and furniture can be a breeding ground for bugs and allergies, so clean frequently, if not daily.
2. Dog Flu Awareness
Canine influenza, particularly H3N2, is highly contagious. While it doesn’t affect humans, it’s unsettling to think of our beloved pets being in danger, especially if they are older and more vulnerable. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, dehydration, and fever. Taking precautions during outbreaks can protect your dog and other canines. Most importantly, minimize exposure to other dogs. Even nose sniffing causes transmission. If you personally encounter other dogs, wash your hands and change your clothes before contact with your pet. Additionally, disinfect home surfaces, as flu can persist for up to 48 hours. Consult with a vet for further advice and to determine if vaccination is necessary.
3. Be Careful Outdoors
Even during cooler temperatures, dogs are vulnerable to dehydration. If they’re outdoors, make sure they have easy access to fresh water, and continuously supervise them. If you’re getting cold, it’s best to bring your pet inside. Be vigilant of temperature fluctuations, and keep outdoor activities to a minimum when it’s particularly chilly. Look out for slippery surfaces, especially if your dog is older and suffers from arthritis. When outdoors, be attentive to where your dog sniffs and licks, as antifreeze may be used during cooler weather. Mushrooms, too, should be avoided, as they are potentially toxic.
4. Inside Protection
Keeping a dog healthy will also require indoor adjustment. In particular, older pets can be vulnerable to cooler weather. If your dog is big and has a thick coat, they may be better protected, but precautions are important. Make sure your dog has a blanket in their bed as well as an area to sleep/lounge in that gets plenty of sunshine. Avoid electric blankets, as they can potentially cause burns. Heated pet beds may, however, be effective in helping with aging joints. When it’s very cold, try to limit baths, as they can remove oils that prevent skin from drying out. This will avoid dogs becoming irritated and scratching themselves excessively.
5. Home Hazards
Our homes can be hazardous places. If your dog has to spend more time inside, there will be greater potential for danger. Survey your home to ensure toxic substances, like chemicals and rodent poison, are not reachable. When using any harmful products, consider confining your dog to avoid accidental ingestion. Choking hazards should also be looked for, and removed. These are usually small objects, like batteries and chew toys, but can also extend to sticks and bones. Make sure that toys are put away when you are not there to supervise your pooch.
Cooler temperatures bring with them unique challenges to dog owners. There will be increased hazards and risks, and the temperatures themselves may cause discomfort. Thankfully, with the right precautions taken, you can keep your dog healthy and happy no matter the weather.
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