6 Tips to Get Your Dog Ready for Cold Weather

6 Tips for Winter
Maybe you look forward to it and maybe you dread it, but whatever your opinion on winter, one thing is true – it’s a time when our beloved pets need a little more care. That beautiful fur coat is not enough protection for the upcoming cold weather months. Before the mercury dips too low, make sure you and your four-legged friends are ready.

#1 Bootie Time.

In the warmer months, booties are great for protecting paws from rocks and debris. In the winter, it’s the ice, salt and antifreeze that can injure them. Both salt and ice can have sharp edges which can cause injury and salt pellets can burn a dog’s paw pads. During walks, your dog’s paws can also pick up deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic. Dog booties from Ruffwear and Pawz are great because they protect against all these elements plus they help your dog’s grip on the ice. If your dog refuses to wear booties, try a dog paw wax, like Musher’s, and make sure you wash and dry their paws thoroughly after being outside.

#2 Sweater weather.

Coats and jackets for dogs aren’t just a pet fashion statement. Dogs with short or shaved fur or smaller breeds of dogs need the extra protection from the biting cold. And when fur gets wet it loses much of its insulating ability. When shopping for a dog sweater or coat, make sure you get the correct fit. Also make sure it doesn’t affect your dog’s ability to see or move comfortably.

#3 Time for reflection.

During winter’s shorter days, you’ll probably be doing more dog walking in dark pre-dawn mornings and dark nights. Make sure you dog is easy to see with a reflective jacket, collar or use a reflective light.

#4 Ditch the itch.

During the winter months, the cold air outside and the warm, dry air inside leave our skin dry and flakey. It’s the same for our dogs. Consider using a humidifier to add moisture into the air which helps keep skin hydrated. And omega rich salmon oil is a must for keeping your dog’s skin & coat healthy. Regular brushing and grooming can also help with this issue, as it gets rid of dead hair and stimulates your dog’s skin to produce more oils. Be sure to use natural shampoos, herbal ointments or natural oil supplements to soothe skin, or a natural skin and itch remedy.

#5 A spill that can kill.

Sure, you probably use pet-friendly ice melts, but that doesn’t mean your dog won’t come across dangerous chemicals while out on walk so steer clear of spills. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.

#6 Enjoy the great indoors.

The threat of frostbite to dogs is real, so don’t leave your dog outside for long periods of time. Even sunny winter days can be deceiving, as wind chill can make the actual temperature colder than it really is. When it’s cold or wet out, keep younger, older and sick pets indoors.

Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Use common sense, and follow these guidelines, and you can keep your dogs safe and healthy through the winter months.

Five Steps to Fighting Pet Obesity

5 Steps to Fighting Pet ObesityYou’ve seen the headlines – as a population, we are getting fatter. Close to 40% of adults are obese and that number continues to grow. But you may not know that this same epidemic is effecting our pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats are overweight or obese. Now consider that more than 60% of the owners of overweight dogs don’t think their dogs are obese, and you can understand why this situation is not improving.

How did this happen? Most experts blame rising pet obesity on the shift in pet diets toward highly processed, grain and carb heavy foods, and less and less exercise (incidentally, some of the same factors that drive human obesity). No matter the cause, the results of pet obesity are clear – osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, ligament injuries, kidney disease, cancer, and an overall decreased life expectancy of more than two years.

As pet owners who believe in natural nutrition, we are not immune to this issue. As a result, here is a five step plan for recognizing and tackling pet obesity.

  1. Look and feel – Real scientific measurements such as the body condition score (BCS) is a great diagnostic tool, but you can start by doing a quick assessment at home using your eyes and hands. Start by feeling your pet’s ribs. You should be able to feel each individual rib with a slight layer of fat over them. You should not need to work at finding those ribs. Then look at your dog or cat from above. You should see a waist behind the rib cage of a cat or dog in the healthy weight range.
  2. Talk to your vet – a trip to the vet will obviously give you a very clear picture of your pet’s ideal weight, but with blood and urine tests you can also rule out other factors that may be causing weight gain, including issues related to the thyroid, metabolism or hormonal problems.
  3. Tackle the nutrition issue – A highly processed, grain-based diet of carbohydrates fed to animals designed to thrive on a meat-based, fresh food diet is very likely to produce overweight pets. Talk to your vet about switching to a diet consisting of more meat and nutrient rich fruits and veggies, or consider dehydrated raw pet food which is high in protein, digestive enzymes, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
  4. Meal timing and portions – The next step is to look at how often and how much your pet eats. It’s a myth that pets can always self-regulate their diets, so no more free feeding. Also, you’ll want to limit the amount of treats and no more table scraps for Fido.
  5. Get moving – Taking your pet out for a short walk to do his or her “business” is not enough. Exercise needs vary based on a dog’s age, breed and size, but in general, dogs should be active between 30 minutes to 2 hours every day. It’s a great opportunity to engage with your pet, introduce some fun new fetch toys and get moving yourself.

Finally, be patient. If you go through these steps you should see results. But remember that healthy weight loss takes time. As long as your dog is continually losing weight – even very small amounts per week – you are on the right track.