Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter Proofing Your Dog's Paws

Winter can be a beautiful time to hike in the sparkly, cold wonderland. But, it can also wreak havoc on your dog's paws: cracking, trauma, frost bite, chemical burns and drying. This can hurt! We often don't think about it, but steps can be taken to prevent painful paws. Here's what you can do:
  1. Prep the paws. Trim the hair between the toes and around the paws. This will prevent ice balls from forming. It is also especially important to keep your dog's nails trimmed. Long nails can cause the paw pads to spread out while walking causing snow to get packed in between the toes. 
  2. Invest in some Paw and Nose Butter. Yes, there is such a product! Before you go out into the wild, gently clean your dog's paw pads with a warm wash cloth and apply a thin layer of butter. This will form a thin barrier between your dog's paw pads and the elements. Once you are done with your walk, wash your dog's paws with warm water and apply the butter again. This will help moisturize the paw pads and keep them from getting dried out.  You can follow the same steps for your dog's nose if you notice it is getting dry and cracked from the cold weather.
  3. Invest in some dog boots. This is another layer of protection for your dog's feet. You can still use the paw butter to keep the paws warm, soft and supple. But the dog boots add the ultimate protection.
  4. Stay away from de-icers and salt. Avoid areas that have had de-icer or salt spread. These substances can be toxic to pets and cause chemical burns. Once you are done walking, wash your dog's paws to make sure that there is nothing that Fido can lick off to make him/her sick and then apply paw butter!
Last but not least, here is a recipe you can use to make your own paw butter:
  • 2 TBS Shea Butter
  • 2 TBS Coconut oil
  • 2 TBS Beeswax
  • 1 tsp Sweet almond or Olive oil
Put all the ingredients into a pan and melt over low heat while occasionally stirring. Once it is all melted, transfer into a glass jar for cooling and storage.

p.s...This recipe can also be used as an excellent human body butter. :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hypothermia in Canines

Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can be caused by more than just being outside in the cold for long periods of time. There are a lot of factors that play into whether or not your dog is at risk of hypothermia, some of them include:
  • Very young or old dogs.
  • Dogs under anesthesia.
  • Smaller breeds, because they experience faster loss of body heat. 
  • Diseases of the hypothalamus (example: hypothyroidism). The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating and maintaining body temperature. 
  • Shock
  • And... of course... if your dog has been out in the cold or the skin/ fur has been wet for a long period of time.
So, how do you know if your dog has hypothermia? A dog's normal body temperature is higher than a human's. The normal range is from 101-102.5F. When it drops to a human range of body temperature (97.6- 99.6F), they are in danger of hypothermia. In fact, if your dog's body temperature drops below 98F, you should seek a veterinarian immediately. 

The first signs of hypothermia is excessive shivering and lethargy. You should also check for frostbite: When areas of the skin, particularly the tail, ears and paws, become pale, gray and/ or bluish. These areas can also feel cold or brittle and be painful when touched. Sometimes, the frost bit areas will also swell and form blisters. To check your dog's body temperature, click this link.

Here is a handy temperature chart. Remember if your dog is below 98F, TAKE THEM TO THE VET.

What to Do:
(Remember, if your dog's temperature is below 98F, seek a veterinarian immediately!)
  1. Throw some blankets in the dryer to warm them up. Then, wrap your dog in the warm blankets.
  2. Wrap a warm water bottle in a towel and place on your dog's stomach. Do not place the warmed water bottle directly on the stomach without wrapping it. This may cause a burn on your dog's stomach.
  3. If your dog is alert, give him/her warm fluids to drink. 
  4. Try to keep your dog still. Moving around will cause more body heat to be lost.
  5. Take your dog's temperature every 10 minutes. Once your dog is at a normal temperature, take them to the veterinarian to check for long term damage. 
Winter can be a wonderful time to go out hiking and playing in the snow, but just because your dog has fur, does not mean they can withstand extreme temperatures. Always pay attention to the signs your dog is giving you that they may be cold. In addition, prepare your dog for cold weather. investing in a good dog coat and booties is always a good idea if you are going to be outside for a long duration of time. Lastly, never leave your dog unattended outside in the cold. 

Additional links:
Hypothermia: Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Cold, Cesar's Way,

Hypothermia in Dogs, Doctors Foster and Smith,

Low Body Temperature in Dogs, Vetary,