Brrrrr—it sure is cold here in Aspen with lots of snow! The following guidelines will help you protect your dog or cat when the mercury dips.
PUPPIES: Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs. Be mindful of your time outdoors with your puppy during outdoor puppy training and house breaking. Rule of thumb – if you are cold, your puppy is likely to be cold.
GERIATRIC DOGS: If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age or arthritis, we recommend short walks during extremely cold weather. Older dogs often have arthritis which can be exacerbated by cold weather. Additionally, slippery ice patches can often cause old dogs to slip, especially in the back legs. This type of fall can cause ACL injuries, psoas muscle pulls and fractures.
ACTIVITY: Does your dog do a lot of hiking, cross country skiing or back country touring? If so, we recommend increasing your dog’s calories during their active winter months. If you need nutritional advice, please call us at our clinicc
EATING SNOW AND ICE MELTS: Is it ok if my puppy or dog eats snow? YES – it is like water. Although it may be dirty from the washed chip rock used to dust our snowy streets. We are fortunate here in Aspen, as Pitkin county enforced a strict, environmentally safe “non-sanding” program that bans the use of use of hazardous chemical deicers on our streets. We use no salt magnesium or magnesium chloride ice melts on our streets. So although the tasty snow may be dirty (and not taste very good), rest assured that the rock chips are not toxic. Home and condo owner’s, however, often use salt magnesium melts for their driveways and sidewalks. These can be painful to the pads of dogs and cause minor sores in the skin and pads. If you use such products, wipe down your dog’s feet/pads once you get inside your home.
DOGS COAT: In Aspen, we do not recommend shaving your dog’s coat in the wintertime as the thicker coats provide significant warmth to dogs. If you like to have your dog groomed, talk to your groomer about a “partial thinning” during the wintertime. If you bathe your dog at home during the cold winter months make sure the coat is completely dry before heading out into the cold. Do you own a small dog or a short-haired breed? Consider getting a coat or sweater. These breed are usually very well tolerant of their warm fashion wear!
CATS: During the winter months, outdoor cats seek warmth and will often sleep under the hood of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
WINTER TOXINS: Antifreeze is lethal for dogs and cats, even after just a few licks. Both dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze. It is highly toxic and rapidly absorbed causing severe life threatening kidney failure. If you plan to fill up your vehicle with this coolant this winter, be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills! We recommend the use of coolant products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA for more information.
All rat and mouse baits (Brodifacoum, Warfarin, Bromadiolone) which are commonly used during the winter months, are very toxic to dogs and cat if ingested. Please keep these products in safe areas that are not accessible to your pets.
TOXIC WINTER PLANTS: Lilies, poinsettias, mistletoes and holly can be very toxic to dogs and cats if infested. If you have these in your home, please make sure these plants are high out of reach for any curious cat or playful hungry puppy. Liquid potpourri is also toxic – don’t let your cat or dog drink this liquid.
CHRISTMAS TREE HAZARDS: Yes – Your Christmas tree water, its strewn electric cords, ribbons, tinsel, and glass ornaments can all be hazardous to your cat and dog. Be Aware!
HOLIDAY FOODS: As you celebrate your holidays, make sure the chocolate containing snacks, the roasted turkey or ham, alcoholic beverages, and edibles are far out of reach from your dog and cat!
- Although the river or pond looks frozen, it may not be! Be careful of your dog walking out on these surfaces. If the surface is not frozen and your dog falls, often times by the time you get to your dog, serve hypothermia or drowning has set in. Please be aware of this preventable hazard!
- Doggie botties? Although often not tolerated by many breeds, if your dog struggles to walk on the cold snow or gets snow balls caught in their paws, dog botties are a great solution.
- Don’t ever let you dog or cat sleep inside your car during the winter months. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold, which can lead to severe hypothermia or even death.