Cold Weather Pet Care

Walking Your Dog in a Winter Wonderland

cold weather pet care
My dog Otis has a nose bigger than his brain. Because of this, I have to keep him leashed even while out in the woods so the fool won't get lost. He'll catch the scent of a squirrel, and if I don't have him under control, he'd be off faster than greased lightning.

Since we live in the city, a leash is mandatory anyways. He's a friendly sort and has a habit of rushing off to meet new people, so I use a retractable 20 foot lead with a thumb lock from PetSmart. People and dogs are one thing, but this helps just in case he wants to rush into the road to make pals with a passing box delivery truck. Come winter, it's all I can do to keep him in check and from dragging me along with him.

Snow Messes With Scent
Otis may have a nose made for sniffing out trouble, but a fresh blanket of snow wipes out all traces of scent. Dogs, and cats for that matter, can easily get lost in these conditions. There's one more justification for keeping him on the leash. I know where to go, he might not.

Impacted Ice Under the Paws
No matter how hard I try to avoid it, short of sticking on those annoying little pooch booties, Otis picks up little balls of ice under his paws during a walk. As soon as we find a park bench, a fallen log, or our own front porch, I make sure to sit down and take a moment clean off the unwanted hitchhikers. Not only are the ice balls painful for Otis, chemicals and de-icer salts get imbedded as well. If left to his own, Otis will lick these ice particles away, ingesting the nasties.

Winter brings an increase of anti-freeze fluid spills from over-zealous fills during maintenance. The sorry thing is that the bright neon yellow and orange fluids are sweet tasting, and deadly at the same time. I can't control my neighbors' do-it-yourself routines, but for me, I make sure I have an old shop towel laying under my engine when I re-fill to catch any of my overspill that might make it to the driveway. It isn't so much that it will puddle, but even a little spill can harm Otis, and I wouldn't want to put my buddy through that.

Sidewalk Salt - A Simple Habit Change
Magnesium chloride is the main ingredient in most commercially available sidewalk de-icer products, and will remain so, as it works very well. With normal use and under normal conditions, it will eventually break down and no longer be a danger, but here in New Hampshire, an early or late-season snowstorm can easily melt away in a matter of hours, leaving undiluted sidewalk treatments behind.

So, I use a product called Safe Paws Ice Melter that is safe for Otis and my kids, just in case. Not only does it work, it won't stain your walkway, it's environmentally safe, and it won't ruin your floors when tracked inside.

Winter Gear For Me
Otis is a strong dog, and a good pull from him will have me down on the ground if I'm not careful. So for our winter walks, I make sure to dress warmly, starting with my Under Armor. Next, I make sure the slip-on spikes for my boots are set straight. It get's icy on our sidewalks, and I like the added prevention of a solid grip in case Otis finds a lady friend to say hello to three blocks away.