It’s almost that time of year again when many dogs can be spotted strutting down 5th Avenue showing off their snug sweaters and little booties. These fashion accessories may look extremely adorable, but they’re also really important for taking care of your pets in the winter. Here are a couple things to keep in mind for your dogs (and cats!) when the freezing temperatures set in and snow starts to fall.
A dog’s paws, nose, ears, tail, or any exposed skin are the most susceptible to frostbite. This is especially true for very young or old dogs, shorthaired dogs, or dogs that just spend a lot of their time outdoors. Some dogs can spend hours diving around in the snow while their owners grudgingly trail after them. For those dog owners we say this: Invest in some good quality long underwear, put on a couple extra layers and get out there!
But we also say watch out for their paws.
Without booties, which many dogs can’t stand, dogs can suffer from snow build-up between their toes. These icy blocks are obviously uncomfortable, which is why you may notice how some dogs suddenly sit down and start chewing on their paws. The simplest thing to do is to pull the clumps out for them, but be careful to hold onto nearby hairs so you don’t accidentally pull on those too.
Individual home and building owners might care enough to spend the extra money for “pet-friendly” ice melting products, but most do not. Ice melt can cause actual pain and harm to a dog’s paws, and there’s no way to avoid it. It’s on the street, on the sidewalks, on the paved path in Prospect Park–you name it. You can pick up pet-friendly ice melt for your stoop at most local pet supply stores. Unleashed by Petco (81 7th Avenue) carries Pestell Paw Thaw Pet Friendly Ice Melter – a 12-pound bag costs $15 and a 25-pound bucket costs $30.
But don’t trust that the ice melt you see on the street is always pet-friendly! Before taking your dog out, we suggest leaving a small tub of clean water near the door. When you get back home, slosh your dog’s feet around in it. It’s the easiest way to wash off the irritating salt. Or wipe your dog’s paws with a wet towel before your pets try to lick the salt off and ends up irritating his or her mouth.
Cats are a little bit easier to make happy during the winter because they just love to be warm. Supply a bunch of blankets for them to snuggle under and they’ll be content. But cats might want to lounge next to the warmest place in your home – the radiator. Make sure there’s no chance of your cat being burned by the heat by throwing a blanket or towel over it, especially when you’re not home.
For our pets, we should take the same precautions as we do when winter comes. We don’t hesitate to throw on a scarf and gloves, but it’s up to us to help out our furry pals!
For more tips for pets (and their owners) in the neighborhood, check out Park Slope for Pets.