The forecast for this weekend is supposed to be bitter cold. If you're a Chicago Bear, it's great weather, but if you are a pet owner looking to get in a run, there are a few safety procedures you may want to follow to make sure that Fido stays safe and warm.
If you run with your dog already then they should be OK to run even in this cold. It should go without saying, but if you haven't run outside with your dog yet this Winter, this weekend isn't the time to start, for either of you. Ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures are not the best way to introduce either of you to running outside. However, if you need to get out and run, here are a few things to keep mans best friend happy and safe. Playing it safe and smart, you should be fine, a little preparation will help go a long way.
Check out your dogs coat. If they already have a thick coat and are "bred to tolerate cold," like Labs, then they should be fine without any extra clothing. If your dog has a thin coat, then you may want to invest in an extra layer and warmth for your pooch, before heading outside. Believe it or not, dogs have almost as many options as humans do when it comes to workout gear! There are sweaters, fleece and fleece lined jackets even neoprene-breathable coats to keep them warm while you are out. Just like their human counterparts, "old dogs" are more sensitive to the cold, something that needs to be taken into consideration.
Dogs can get frostbitten paws when they are over exposed to the cold, they can also get it on their noses and ears, like their owners. If an over exposed area appears to be red or gray or have a whitish tint, it's a good bet that your pup has frost bite and it needs to be taken care of immediately. Luckily, quick care is pretty easy. Do not put our dog onto a hot bath or shower, but simply take a warm towel or your warm hands and slowly warm the frost bitten area back up, the area should return back to pink again after a while. If not make sure to consult your veterinarian.
For Your Pups Paws-
They may look silly, but booties for their paws can help prevent frost bite and keep your pooch moving. There are two important factors to consider before buying booties (no it's not if they match the collar and leash), the weather and the length of your runs are things you want to take into consideration when buying booties for your dog. Just like running shoes, proper fit for your dogs paws are important. Make sure that they booties aren't too small to prevent rubbing them raw and that there is room to allow their toes to spread out on impact. Again, just like running shoes, make sure that you don't lace their booties too tight, because it will cut off the circulation to your dogs paws. On the flip side, if their booties are too large, your dog will have problems getting proper traction.
If the booties you bought aren't cutting it in the snow, you can do a
little home remedy to get better traction for your dog. A quick fix is
to put a thin and even layer of shoe glue on the bottom of each bootie,
then dip the wet surface in sand. Allow the glue to fully dry before
you head outdoors, this is the home made version of trail shoes for
your pooch and shold add a little more grip on the snow.
All of the bootie talk is easy to say, but may not be so easy to pull
off. Some dogs, won't let you put them on their paws, no matter how
hard you try, they will bite, scratch and pull them off. Wax-based paw
protectors are not as protective, but will give your dog some added
protection. Musher's Secret is a product that gives your dogs pads some protection and keeps the snow from collecting on their fur and your dog's toes.
When you are done running, make sure to inspect your dog's legs and
paws for damage. If they run bootless, remember to rinse your dog's
feet. There are some de-icing products used on streets and sidewalks
that can damage a dogs pads and are toxic if your dog licks their paws.
A warm water rinse and a towel dry, will remove all the harmful
chemicals from their pads and keep them safe.
Running in the snow and ice is harder than on a dry warm day, you may
need to increase your dogs food to keep him moving. If your dog is
losing weight or losing energy, if their fur starts looking dull, talk
to your veterinarian about fatty acid supplements.
If you're carrying water and fuel for yourself, be sure there is water
available for your dog, it's not easy and a little gross, but you can
share your water bottle with your dog, if there are no other options
available. Some dogs will drink right from it, all you need to do is
squeeze a little so the liquid comes out. If spot isn't willing to
drink from your water bottle, then you can pour some into your cupped
hand and your dog can drink from hand. Depending on the length of the
run, you may want to consider carrying treats for your dog as well.
Finally as the temperature dips below zero, long exposure for either of
you in these elements aren't a good idea, make sure to follow these
safety tips and it will keep the both of you safe, warm and running.