may have made it through a good chunk of winter, but the
next two months will be no walk in the park ó
especially for your dog.
ASPCA has yet to lift its extreme weather watch for pet
owners, and has listed a number of winter safety tips
that conclude with a single piece of advice: "If itís
too cold for you, itís probably too cold for your
although you may feel toasty under five layers, how do
you know your dog isnít cold?
Megan Kaplan, a veterinarian at BluePearl Emergency
Hospital in north suburban Northfield, Ill., says dogs
should be kept outside "no longer than five to 10
minutes" on days the temperature drops below
freezing, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and advises owners
to look for red flags such as shivering.
cold temperatures are not the only concern. Chemicals
used for ice control and prevention can also be harmful.
property owners may try to prevent and/or melt ice with
anti-freeze solutions, which contain a dangerous
chemical called ethylene glycol. Because it has a sweet
taste that appeals to dogs, many may lick the
anti-freeze off the sidewalk or off their paws ó but
itís toxic to animals if ingested. And plain old salt,
vigorously used on pavement to melt snow and ice, can
cause both contact irritation such as chapped paws and
stomach upset if ingested.
utmost protection against chemical agents, the ASPCA
suggests applying a dollop of petroleum jelly to your
pupís paws before going outside, or using booties if
your dog will tolerate them.
a trip to the groomer is even more important in winter.
Kaplan says that getting the hair between your petís
paws trimmed helps clear away any harsh salts or
ethylene glycol that may get trapped. "We donít
recommend extra-short cuts because the hair helps
insulate them, but some (owners) keep it trimmed so itís
easier to clean off and it gives them a little bit of
traction," she says.
the street and sidewalk is easier said than done. Kaplan
suggests "walking (dogs) in more public areas"
such as city parks, where peoples are less likely to
have used chemicals.
or backyard, Kaplan says the No. 1 rule for dog owners
is to err on the safe side: "Treat them like a baby
or a small child," she says. "You wouldnít
leave those guys outside unattended."