Can you say “polar vortex”? We New Yorkers—in fact, all of us in the northern U.S.—have dug out our winter coats and boots. Some of us are already shoveling snow. And those of us with pets are wondering, yet again, if those silly-looking dog booties are actually worth it. (Spoiler alert: yes!)
Each season comes with its own weather and risks. Keep your dog safe with our top five tips for winter safety:
1. Take a pet CPR and first aid class.
Do you know how to help if your dog licks antifreeze? Gets hypothermia? Chokes on tinsel?
A good CPR and first aid class will teach you exactly what to do if the worst does happen. Check out PetTech to find classes in your area; dog sitters in NYC are eligible for free pet CPR and first aid training (email firstname.lastname@example.org to register).
2. Brush up on loose-leash walking and obedience.
It’s tough enough to handle a dog pulling you down the street when the ground is dry. Add some snow and ice, and you’re both in danger.
Practice loose-leash walking skills so that you’re both able to walk comfortably and navigate treacherous spots slowly and safely.
And make sure your dog has a solid command of “leave it”—essential when deadly temptations like antifreeze are present.
3. Keep that water dish full.
Dehydration isn’t just for swimsuit season. Dogs can quickly dehydrate in winter as well, so make sure there’s plenty of fresh water available at home and during walks.
Be aware that eating snow isn’t a replacement for fresh water, and can end up causing stomach upset if a dog eats too much of it.
4. Don’t leave your dog alone in a parked car.
This is another summer tip that applies in winter as well. Car interiors cool down quickly, putting your dog at risk for hypothermia. And leaving your dog in an idling car can expose him or her to carbon monoxide poisoning.
5. Yep—invest in those booties.
They may look silly and it may take some time for your dog to get used to them, but they’ll be one of your best winter safety investments.
Booties keep paws warm and dry, offer grip on slick, icy surfaces (critical in particular for dogs that are elderly or injury-prone), and protect pads from cracking due to snow, ice, rock salt, and chemical ice melters.
When you come indoors and take off the booties, you remove the chemicals along with them, so your dog isn’t tempted to lick his or her paws clean and ingest something poisonous.
Follow these tips as well as your common sense, and you’re well on your way to a safe, fun winter with your dog. See you at the park!