A few bits of useful information to help keep look after your dog in colder months.
You may find that during a particularly cold snap your dogs favourite swimming hole has frozen over. However tempting it is for your dog to go on the ice don't let them, even small breeds. It's best to keep your dog on a lead around canals, lakes and rivers if you know they will try to get in. It would be rare for the ice to be thick enough to take your dogs weight and you risk the ice cracking causing your dog to fall in freezing water. Like people dogs can suffer from shock in freezing water and your dog could die unless they receive proper medical attention, there is also the risk of your dog becoming trapped under the ice if they fell through a hole. Most dogs will eventually, after a moment of panic, get themselves out of trouble, use encouragement to get them to a safe place to get out of the water. Even though you may feel an overwhelming need to go in the water after your dog don't, you are more likely to cause injury
to yourself than help your dog
Let them eat snow ?
Dogs do seem to love to eat snow but don't let them eat old dis-coloured snow, or snow from around cars or near roads as it could contain anti-freeze or road grit that can be fatal to dogs. You should also rinse your dogs feet when they have been walking on gritted pavements and prevent them licking their paws or trying to pull lumps of snow off, like my dog does, should the snow be contaminated in any way. If your dog starts to act differently after eating snow, lethargy or vomiting etc. take them to the vet as soon as possible. Remember your dog still needs a supply of fresh water even if they eat snow and they will probably need to wee a lot more.
If you have a long-haired breed or a dog that doesn't shed you may find that snow builds up especially around their feet and legs. Although this won't do any immediate harm eventually it can cause your dog discomfort and pain and stop them moving altogether. The snow should start to melt once you go inside but you can use lukewarm water to help speed up the process don't use hot water as this can shock your dog. To help prevent this from happening you can regularly trim the hair between your dogs paws and on their legs.
After walking your dog check their paws for any foreign objects and for any cuts, also rinse their paws and dry thoroughly. Snow can hide sharp objects on the ground, such as glass, and ice can also cut your dogs paws, grit can also cause irritation.
Your dog might act like they've gone mad when they first see the snow and charge around having fun, you may have to put them on the lead eventually to stop them causing injury to themselves just like people dogs can pull muscles and break bones if they slip on ice.
Feeling the cold
Short-haired, hairless and trimmed dogs will naturally feel the cold more. When they're out and about consider a dog coat especially designed to keep your dog warm, imagine if you went straight from a heated house to the cold outside without an extra layer. Most dogs will also appreciate an extra blanket in their bed at night. Just like with people the cold will aggravate arthritis in a dog so discuss your options with your vet on how to treat the symptoms in the colder months.