The best way to make sure that your dog is safe for the winter is to keep him indoors with you. You can take your dog out for frequent walks and exercise, but you should really keep him inside the rest of the time. When the temperature drops, don’t leave your pets outdoors. Windchill can be life threatening for a dog. Frostbite and hypothermia can occur during extreme cold spells. With hypothermia, you should look for signs of shivering, shallow breathing, weak pulse or lethargy. Frostbite can happen on ears, tails, scrotum or feet. Signs of frostbite include discolored skin, swelling or blisters. If you see signs of either of these conditions, bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Skin that is exposed on noses, ears and paw pads can freeze quickly. If you have a short-haired dog and take him on a walk, you can make him feel cozier by wearing a sweater. This should also be done if your dog has only a small amount of body fat. These dogs include Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and miniature Pinschers. Should you have a dog that spends a lot of time outside, he must be protected by a dry shelter that is free of drafts. It should be large enough to have room for the dog to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor needs to be raised a few inches off the ground and have a covering of cedar shavings or straw in it. Covering the doorway with heavy plastic or waterproof burlap will help keep your dog warm. As keeping warm depletes about 30% more energy, your dog needs more food to keep them satisfied. Check your dog’s water dish to make sure the water is not frozen. Be sure to use plastic food and water bowls so your dog’s tongue won’t stick to the bowls. Don’t let your dog eat snow as it may upset their stomach. When you take your dog out for a walk, he may get salt on his paws. This can be quite irritating to them. Be sure to wipe off their paws with a damp towel after you come inside if there is snow and ice. Check the dogs foot pads for cracking or irritation and if you find it, use a foot balm designed for dogs. If you have antifreeze in your garage, be sure to put it out of reach from your dog. It has a sweet taste that can attract animals. If a dog or other pet gets into antifreeze, they can die. Be sure to wipe up any spills that you may have in your garage. If you normally have your dog groomed, keep the hair longer in the wintertime to keep him warm. If you give your dog a bath at home, be sure that he is completely dry before you take him outdoors. Because more dogs get lost in the wintertime than any other season, it is a good idea to always keep your dog on a leash. Be sure that your dog always wears ID tags.

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