We are no strangers to snowy winters here in Ontario, and neither are our dogs. While there is nothing wrong with letting your pooch out in the yard or taking a wintry walk together, sometimes it’s simply too cold or snowy (or both) to be outdoors safely.
If you find yourself snowed in with your dog this winter, never fear. Your friends at Summeridge Animal Clinic have put together a “survival guide” to caring for dogs in the winter, all while keeping your sanity in check!
Caring for Dogs in the Winter Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
Being cooped up with a pet can be a challenge. Although it seems like the dog days of summer will never arrive, you can still keep your pup as happy as possible with the following ideas:
- Exercise – Daily exercise seems like a bit of a tall order for an Ontario winter, but dogs of all ages need it for optimal health and wellness. Fortunately, the calorie burning doesn’t have to stop just because you’re stuck indoors. If you have the space, set up an obstacle course or play an active game, such as tug-of-war or fetch. Treadmills can be great alternatives to outdoor walks; just be sure to start slowly and always supervise your dog.
- Potty breaks – Depending on the depth of the snow and the height of your dog, you may need to shovel out an area or a path for his or her elimination needs. Always accompany your dog outside during a snowstorm, as it’s easy for dogs to lose their sense of direction in heavy snow.
- Game time – Mental stimulation is vital in warding off cabin fever for dogs and people alike. Treat puzzles and indoor games, such as hide and seek, are a fun way to pass the time, and will provide much needed relief from the boredom of staying inside. Being snowed in is also the perfect opportunity to brush up on your dog’s obedience training!
In Case of Emergency
Winter emergencies aren’t fun to think about, but they can and do happen. Blizzards and power outages have a way of catching us off guard. Having a plan in place for your pet in case of a winter emergency is crucial:
- Make sure your dog is wearing his or her collar with ID tags at all times, and that his or her microchip has been updated to reflect your current contact information.
- Because a serious storm could prevent you from leaving your home for a period of time, it’s important to have enough food and fresh water to see your pet through several days, along with extras of any medications or supplements he or she is taking.
- Find a location near an exit to store leashes and an emergency kit, including extra food, water, and medications, if necessary.
- Arrange for a safe haven or temporary caregiver for your pet in the event you are evacuated from your home. Most shelters and hotels will not accept pets, and pets should never be left behind for their own safety.
We know that your pet’s safety is your top priority. Please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Summeridge with your questions and concerns regarding caring for and protecting your pet in the winter.