Dogs need different care in the winter |

Dogs need different care in the winter

Nadine Lober
Vail, CO Colorado

Now that winter is approaching, most hiking trails and golf courses become a winter playground for pets. But we need to keep our dogs fit and trim.

The days are now shorter and it may become a chore to walk the dog after work in the dark or even early in the morning when the cold is unbearable. Our pets, as well as us, need the exercise.

If our dogs are overweight or their exercise is limited then we should give them a little less food. Ideally, we should switch to a less active food with fewer calories and more fiber.

Most of us overfeed our pets. We feel guilty when our pets look at us with those sad faces or start showing us all the tricks they know. A cup of food is one cup not an empty coffee tin, which is closer to two cups. The back of the dog-food bag will tell you how much to feed your dog, so split that amount into morning and evening meals.

Cold weather probably means more pain and joint stiffness for dogs who are arthritic or have some degree of hip dysplasia. Arthritis medication and exercise, therefore, is very important. But exercise, does not mean running your dog behind the snowmobile at 40 m.p.h.., or following you on a four-hour cross country trail.

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Dogs, especially labs, are willing to follow you anywhere and for as long as you want. Running in the snow, especially if it’s deep, is more strenuous on the dogs. They can’t rationalize ” they don’t understand they may be too sore to get out of bed the following morning.

If you have a long-haired dog or one who tends to have hair in between the toes, try to keep that hair trimmed or shaved down. This will prevent snow from getting caught there and causing the toes to spread out and the skin to split and bleed. If you have a dog with short hair and sensitive skin, then you might need to put booties on his paws and not keep him in the cold too long.

Dogs can be left outdoors during the day. Most dogs ” goldens, labs, aussies, malamutes, huskies ” can tolerate the cold well. But some dogs have been kept in our warm homes and may not be able to spend a full winter day in the yard, if the temperature drops too low. Use common sense, make sure there is a doggy house with a blanket, maybe a heated one, and plenty of water.

For further questions Dr. Nadine Lober, 949-7972

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