Winter safety tips, canine edition

Des Ryan is a CRA board director and our safety and security lead. Photo of Beckett by neighbour Michael Rowe.

Winter has arrived.

I know: Thank you, Captain Obvious.

If this winter is anything like previous winters, we will be lulled into a false sense of security with a few warm days, and then, BAM. The bitter cold will hit again.

A few quick reminders for those brutally cold days.

When you have to go outside, bundle up — really bundle up. And that goes for your dog as well. If your dog is like most, it will take one sniff of the cold air and turn around, leaving you standing there, all set for the “as required” walk. Your dog is not a fool.

But your dog still needs to piddle, so just bear in mind that, as cold as it is for you, it is cold for your dog as well.

This is not the time for that Trim-to-the-Wood grooming. If you do have to shave your dog down, or if your dog is a short-haired, think about getting a warm sweater or coat that covers from tail to neck and around the belly.

And then there are the booties. Seriously. The salt on our public sidewalks can be intense. If your dog is not the boot-wearing type, consider any number of protectants that can be massaged into paw pads. Be aware that ice can build up between the pads during the walk, causing irritation and/or pain. A cloth or your warm fingers to defrost the ice will help.

After the walk, be sure to wipe your dog’s paws off thoroughly to ensure that the salt and chemicals and whatever else they use on the ice doesn’t soak into your pup.

And, just as we burn up a little extra energy during winter months (some of us less than others, of course…), your dog burns up more trying to stay warm, even if you do just go for the Speed Walk around the block. Might want to give Sparky a little extra food during these cold months.

Finally, we all know that ethylene glycol (antifreeze) can be lethal if ingested. Knowing that dogs eat snow to hydrate during a walk, be sure to clean up any spills you may have when you fill up the antifreeze in your car. A very small amount is extraordinarily toxic for animals.

More cold weather tips for dogs are available at http://www.toronto.ca/petsinthecity. Pets are also welcome at all 24-Hour Respite Sites. More information about services, including the 24-Hour Respite Sites, is available at https://www.toronto.ca/homelesshelp.

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