The Chew: Keeping Your Pup Safe and Warm

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Baby, it’s cold outside! Growing up in Wisconsin, I’m no stranger to cold weather, but that doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, I HATE it. The ice, the snow, wearing bulky clothes to keep out the bone-chilling cold and what do you mean I can’t wear my flip-flops?

Though I’ve always had cats, I am the proud owner of Anakin, my 90-pound white Boxer. During winter, taking care of him is a priority for me. My cats live indoors all year round and so don’t require special winter care.

Monitor Outside Visits

Puppies, older dogs and dogs with health conditions (especially thyroid problems) are more susceptible to colder temperatures and conditions. Make sure to monitor them on each outside visit. Watch for signs of shivering, shortness of breath, weak pulses and lethargy. Frequently check for frostbite with special attention to ears, paws, scrotums and bellies.


If your dog has long hair you will want to keep it as long as possible during the colder months to help insulate against the cold weather. This means you need to be more diligent about brushing so matting doesn’t occur. Matted dog hair can be very uncomfortable for your pup.

In warmer months, your dog’s nails don’t need to be trimmed as often due to the natural filing from longer walks and visits to the dog park. In winter, keep an eye on those paws and get more frequent nail clips or a good grinding.

Cold Weather Hazards

One hazardous waste that’s deadly for dogs, even in small amounts is antifreeze. Making matters worse, dogs are attracted to its sweet smell and taste. Be sure to watch for puddles of antifreeze, especially when walking near parking lots and garages.

Ice melters are another winter hazard that can cause painful irritation to a dog’s paws. One option is to get your dog a pair of boots to protect his feet.

If your dog doesn’t take to wearing boots, you will need to be extra vigilant about wiping down paws after outings. Around your property, we recommend using sand or one of the many pet-friendly ice melters on the market. Our favorite product, which we carry in our retail store, is Safe Paw Ice Melter.

It’s important to keep your dog on a leash in the winter, especially around ponds and creeks. Dogs can easily wander away and slip or even fall through the ice. Hypothermia doesn’t take long to set in despite their natural fur coats.


You may need to limit your dog’s exercise time outdoors, but consider a waterproof winter dog jacket, especially if your pup has short hair or is smaller and closer to the ground. Not all dogs like these coats, but when I put on Anakin’s winter jacket, he’s more likely to stay out longer and gets the outdoor exercise he needs.

Be prepared to throw the ball a few more times indoors and make sure there is a high-quality chew toy to keep your pup busy when he’s stuck indoors. Better yet? Bring them to daycare. They will be safe from the cold weather while getting the socialization and exercise they need. With fewer walks and less time spent at the dog park, daycare is the perfect solution for upcoming cold weather days.

Happy Holidays!
Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

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