With severe weather warnings across the week, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind have released some helpful hints for Kildare pet owners to help them survive the storm.
The forecast for this week is bleak, with snow, ice and harsh cold temperatures forecast.
Lean Kennedy, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind spokesperson said, “These conditions can have an effect on a dog’s coat and paws but it is still important your pet continues to get exercise and has the chance to relieve. So the key to surviving these conditions is to take some practical precautions such as picking appropriate times to venture out, the best ways to groom to add extra heat cover and protect their paws. We also have some specific tips for our smaller puppy friends who can be extra vulnerable. So if people want to see more advice they can visit www.irishguidedogs.ie”
Here are some tips for pet owners:
Check your dog’s size and coat. Small dogs will be more vulnerable to the cold. If your dog has a thick coat please brush their coat upwards, against the grain, so they will have better heat protection against the cold weather. Dogs with thin coats are more vulnerable to the cold so please ensure they are not left out in the cold weather for long periods. Also, if we are lucky enough to get some sun over this harsh climate, it will benefit dark coated dogs better than dogs with fairer coats.
It is best to venture out during mid-day and early afternoon, as opposed to the early morning and late in the evening.
Some dogs have long fur growing between their toes and paw pads. This fur may trap snow and grit in their pads, so if you can trim the fur, ensuring you take care not to cut or scratch their paws.
Puppy paws are not as hardened and weathered as adult dog paws so it may be best to not walk puppies in these harsh conditions.
Shorten or lessen excursions with your dog in this upcoming harsh climate. Only go out if absolutely necessary in snow and ice to avoid slips and falls. Wearing socks over the soles of your shoes helps improve grips on your shoes in snow and ice. However, remember to take them off if going in to a shop as the wet socks may cause you to slip on lino and indoor flooring.
Clean your dog’s pads, in particular between the toes, as road grit can irritate their paws. If you find your dog is excessively licking their paws or is limping, they may have a minor injury that if left unattended could become a bigger problem so a trip to the vet would be recommended.
You may find your dog is taking longer to toilet in the garden. Be patient as your dog may be finding it harder to find a good spot due to the lack of scents due to the cold weather.
Carry a towel to dry your dog off if you go out. It is highly important their coats are not left wet in this harsh weather to avoid risk of hyperthermia or frost bite.
Do not leave your dog out over night or during the day. There is a common misconception that dogs can withstand the cold weather, however, this is not the case. Ensure they have a comfortable bed in a warm room away from drafts. Beds raised off the ground can be best in this harsh weather. Take care to ensure your dog is not leaning against the heater to avoid risk of burns.
Coconut oil, petroleum jelly, paw wax or sudocream can help sore paws. It is best to cover your dog’s paws in knitted small socks to prevent them from licking off ointments. It is best to do this at night time as indoor floors surfaces are snippy enough without the addition of snippy socks.
Ensure your dog drinks plenty of water as they can dehydrate just as easily in cold weather as they can in hot weather. Snow is not a good source of water for dogs.
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is a national charity which provides vital services to blind or vision-impaired people and families of children with autism to enable them to achieve increased mobility, independence and an improved quality of life.