The holiday season is a time of reunions and socializing, gift giving, merriment and joy for everyone. Depending on where you live, the weather can play a big part in the festivities. Whether you live in a sunny southern state or a region further north, stormy days can play havoc with holiday travel, outings, and our Christmas spirit in general. But, have you ever thought about the effect weather can have on our dogs? Changes in mood, level of activity, and as well, effects on the body are all things that we must consider when taking our dogs out in the elements this Christmas season.
Cold temperatures and a feisty wind can create a nasty windchill that can result in hypothermia or frostbite. Keep your pup fed so that their body can generate heat. No need to overdo it and risk weight gain, but nourish them well and on schedule. Then, dress your pup in their winter coat and go out for a short walk, passing along holiday greetings as you go.
It’s not all about the cold. Heat extremes, for those who live in a hotter climate, can also pose a problem. Exercise your dog in the cool hours of the day. Unleash the holiday cheer early in the morning or after the sun goes down. Heatstroke is a definite risk if you work your dog too much in the heat of the day.
Salt can crack the pads of the feet, burning when it penetrates the skin. Before a Christmas Day walk, protect with booties or musher’s wax to coat your pup's pads. De-icing chemicals are a hazard, too. Wipe the feet after a walk and check for irritation. At the opposite extreme, if the pavement is hot to the touch, imagine how it feels on your dog's paws.
No one likes to be stuck inside because of the weather, not even your dog! Keep them mentally stimulated by offering them interesting chew toys, challenging food puzzles and warm and fuzzy stuffies to snuggle with. Better yet, cuddle up for your favorite doggy oriented Christmas movie, petting and massaging your furry friend at the same time.
Your dog will have to go outside for bathroom breaks. Don’t just send them out in the yard alone. They will be cold and sad! Accompany them, pick up their waste and maybe throw a snowball. Keep the walk short if you venture beyond the yard on a frigid day. Alternatively, if you live in the south, play in the sprinkler together for a bit!