10 WINTER CARE TIPS FOR YOUR GREYHOUND
Caring for your Greyhound in the winter is a multi-pronged effort that will require some thought and preparation. Unless you live in a sunny, warm southern climate, harsh winter weather is hard on both humans and dogs. Whether your four-legged friend loves to play in the snow or prefers to stay at home during the winter months, they need a little extra care. Here are ten things you can do to make sure your Greyhound is safe and happy this winter.
#1 OUTDOOR CLOTHING
While they have a furry coat to provide warmth, it is simply not enough. Like us, these fur-coated creatures are used to the warmth of indoor shelter and cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on us humans. That’s why you will see dogs shiver if they don’t wear any protective gear. Not only that, but being exposed to cold, dry air can also cause lots of problems with their paws.
Dogs with thin coats, such as our Greyhounds, will need to wear a sweater or coat when out for winter walks. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. But remember that coats will not prevent frostbite on the ears, feet or tail … so even with a cozy coat, don’t keep your pup out too long in freezing temperatures.
#2 MAKE IT QUICK!
Dogs still need both physical and mental exercise even in winter. Shorten bathroom breaks to quick trips outside rather than long walks. Try to walk them in the late mornings or early evenings when the temperature is not as cold, and watch for signs of frostbite. If your pet gets cabin fever from the limited exercise, turn to indoor interactive games to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. And when they do make it outdoors, always ensure they’re wearing a warm sweater or jacket. When you start to feel chilled, take your dog inside with you because they are probably feeling cold as well.
You might also be interested in this article: Keep Your Greyhound Busy While You're at Work
#3 BEWARE OF ICE!
If you’re walking or playing in unfamiliar areas, keep your dog close. It’s easy for your pup to venture onto unsafe surfaces such as frozen rivers, ponds or lakes. These may be covered in snow and not easily visible. They could potentially fall through the thin ice and put themselves at risk of drowning. Even if they manage to make it out of the icy water, they may suffer from hypothermia, which can be fatal.
#4 REMOVE SNOW
Snow can be a lot of fun but it can also be dangerous for your hound. Snow piled near fences offers your dog escape routes that even well-trained dogs often can’t resist. When you clear snow in your yard, pile it away from fences to prevent your dog from climbing over. Snow and ice often accumulate on rooftops and if the sun is out or as temperatures rise, this accumulation can slide and injure your dog. If you can’t clear the snow from the roof, keep your dog away from the roof overhang to prevent injury.
#5 PROTECT PAWS
When you come in from outside, wipe their paws in case they came into contact with antifreeze or road salt/chemicals. You don’t want them licking that off later. Be sure there is no snow/ice caked up between the pads, and check those pads for cracking. You may need some paw balm like Musher’s Secret.
Booties can help keep pets' feet warm—and prevent mud from tracking indoors. Dogs benefit tremendously from wearing waterproof boots during harsh weather. Not only can they help prevent contact with antifreeze and salt, but also protect foot pads from ice and sharp objects hidden in the snow. It’s important that the booties fit well so your dog feels confident and steady on his feet. See note about senior dogs below.
#6 BEWARE OF ANTIFREEZE AND SALT
In extra-snowy or icy climates, salt and antifreeze are common elements of winter. These may help make sidewalks less icy, but they can be dangerous to pets. Antifreeze attracts dogs because it is very sweet to taste, but it is extremely poisonous and can cause serious illness or death when ingested. Be sure to clean up any antifreeze that spills in your garage, and keep the bottle somewhere your pets cannot access. Salt and other de-icing chemicals can cause skin irritations and if ingested, can damage internal organs. Even so-called “pet safe” salt is not good for dogs. Here is a safe ice melt solution you can DIY:
DIY SAFE ICE MELT
Homemade ice melt is easy to make. In a bucket, combine a half-gallon of hot water, about six drops of dish soap, and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Once you pour the homemade ice melt mixture onto your sidewalk or driveway, the snow and ice will begin to bubble up and melt. Just keep a shovel handy to scrape away any leftover pieces of ice. Put some in a spray bottle to do your car windows.
#7 COZY INDOORS
If you keep the thermostat set low in winter, your dog may need something to take the chill off. Humans have down quilts and snuggly throws. Why not give your dog a little bit of extra warmth, too? Sweaters are not just for outdoors.
#8 WARM BED
Letting your Greyhound sleep on a cold floor can be bad for their health and can cause pain, especially if they have arthritis, hip dysplasia, or other orthopedic problems. So, get them a cozy bed and blanket. Warm blankets can create a snug environment; raised beds can keep your dog off cold tiles or concrete, and heated pet beds can help keep the stiffness out of aging joints. You can get self-warming crate pads, which capture the dogs’ body heat and radiates warmth back, so it’s self-warming without cords or batteries, and of course, they can be used without a crate.
Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts, cold tile or uncarpeted floors, preferably in a favorite spot where she sleeps every day so that the area doesn’t feel unfamiliar. Also, remember to check the bedding and clean it regularly to get rid of germs and bacteria, which is particularly crucial if you suffer from allergies.
Pay attention to your Greyhound’s activity level. Like us, if they are less active, they need fewer calories to maintain their ideal weight. That means you’ll want to watch your dog’s eating habits and make sure he doesn’t start gaining weight. Less exercise means less food. Packing on some extra pounds is hard on the joints and can lead to health issues. Maybe just skip a few treats if you want to cut back.
Think the hot summer months are the only time your pooch can suffer from dehydration? Think again! Since you’re heating your home through artificial means, your dog can still get dehydrated during the winter months. So, remember to give your dog plenty of fresh water. If they have excessive thirst, make sure they are not licking salt off paws or somewhere outside.
#10 SAFEGUARD FIREPLACES AND HEATERS
Your home may require space heaters to maintain a comfortable temperature. Or perhaps you use wall heaters, baseboards, or a fireplace for your heating needs. This can be especially dangerous for your dog. A dog will gravitate to the warmth and these sources of heat can present a burn hazard. Get a cover for the baseboard heaters to prevent your dog from brushing against them. Some wall heaters are safe to be touched without getting burned, but make sure to check. Move the space heaters to a place where your dog can’t get to them. Consider putting a safety gate around your fireplace to keep your dog away.
Avoid electrically heated blankets and pads or beds, particularly if your dog is very young or very old. Older hounds may not be able to sense that it’s getting uncomfortable, or may not be able to move themselves off that heating pad if they get too hot.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT SENIORS:
When dogs get older, winter months become more difficult for them to handle. Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.
If there are stairs involved when your dog goes outside, be at his side to help. And take the time to clear a smooth, dry path so your dog can leave the house, take care of business, and return safely to the warmth of home. Maybe a ramp is in order, or unroll a piece of carpet for easy grip footing.
Senior dogs and puppies spend a lot of time sleeping, so be sure your dog’s favorite snooze spots are warm and out of drafts. Wrap a warm hot-water bottle in a plush towel and give it to your dog as a bed partner, especially after a trip outside. This is comforting for all dogs, particularly older dogs and puppies.
You’ll also want to use caution with putting booties on older dogs, particularly ones that have never worn shoes before. Paws have a tactile sensation that helps dogs keep their grip on surfaces, so if a senior dog is less nimble than they once were, losing some of that grip might make them more prone to slipping.
You might be interested in this article: Help Your Senior Hound
Just remember, you’re the best friend your Greyhound will ever have. To help him make it comfortably and safely through the winter months, all you have to do is combine common sense with some good advice and put yourself in your own dog’s “booties.” If you’re cold and want to come inside, most likely he does, too. Paying special attention to your loyal friend’s wellbeing during the winter season will ensure that you both enjoy the season to the fullest. And don’t forget that winter cuddles with your canine buddy are a great way for everybody to keep warm! Together, you can enjoy all the cozy comforts of winter while waiting for the joys of spring to arrive.
Check out this article for more about Winter Safety