Winter can be a wonderland for our pups. Oh, what fun it is to romp in the fresh snow! But when severe weather is in the forecast, a little preparation will ensure you and your dog can stay safe and have fun too.
Limit outdoors time during this frigid weather. If you have an unfenced yard, please take your pup out on a leash, even if they usually stay in your yard, as this would be a very bad time for them to get lost.
Check paws for ice balls and wipe down paws after coming inside, especially after walking on sidewalks treated with ice-control salt. Use pet-safe salt on your patio and sidewalk.
Keep things cozy with dog beds or blankets where your dog can rest protected from chilly floors.
Stock up on pet food and medication to last several days.
Learn more about cold weather safety with this guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Prevent cabin fever and keep your pup (and yourself) entertained with toys, tricks, and nose work:
- We love the Toppl and Kong for safe chew time. Check out all of our favorite toys here.
- Learn some new tricks here.
- Grab some empty boxes and stinky treats and play nose work (check out a puppy’s first search here).
Road tripping with your pet? Consider safe containment such as a car crate or safety harness. Make sure your pet has a leash and a collar with ID tag with your contact info. Bring extra blankets, pet food, water, and medication in case you are delayed or stuck.
Decorations and pets don’t mix. Keep wrapping paper scraps and ribbon out of reach so silly pups and curious cats don’t eat them. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Avoid potentially hazardous plants like holly, mistletoe, and many varieties of lily. Make sure your Christmas tree is stable and cover the tree stand so your pet can’t ingest the water.
Hosting friends and family? Your pup will enjoy the festivities with a little planning.
Get some exercise. Make sure your pup has a long walk or some fetch time in the yard before guests are scheduled to arrive. You’ll both appreciate the fresh air! Use safe chew toys to keep your pup busy and happy.
Leashes and crates are your friend. Prevent door dashing and jumping by putting your dog in their crate, exercise pen, or another secure puppy-proof area before guests arrive (and just in case, make sure your dog is wearing a collar with ID tags). Once your guests are settled, put your dog on leash and go out for a quick pee (to minimize the chance of excitement peeing), then grab some treats and join the party with your dog (still on leash). Take a few minutes to reward your dog for sitting calmly near you, and then you can allow greetings, if you like; ask your guests to let your dog sniff their hands, while you praise and treat your dog for keeping all four paws on the floor, then call your pup back to you for a treat and some petting.
Watch the snacks. Remind your guests not to feed your dog from the appetizer tray or the table. Here’s a list of foods to avoid.
Avoid begging at mealtimes by putting your dog in their crate or safe confinement area with a stuffed Toppl or Kong toy or another safe chew toy (check out our favorite toys for tons of options). If your dog knows how to go to bed and stay, that’s another great option.
Have your vet’s phone number on hand along with the phone number and address for the nearest emergency vet (VCA Kalamazoo, 269-381-5228, Blue Pearl Grand Rapids, 616-284-5300, Animal Emergency Hospital Byron Center, 616-537-1402). The ASPCA poison control hotline is (888) 426-4435 (consultation fee).
Give your dog a break. Even the most social dog appreciates some down time, and dogs that are uncomfortable with guests will be much happier away from all the hubbub. Create a quiet space for your dog where they can relax in their crate. This also gives you an excuse to “check on the dog” when you need to escape for a few minutes of quiet time.
Have a safe and happy howliday season!