When the weather is cold and dry or wet and cold, service dogs and pet dogs require extra loving care to stay in tip top shape while traveling.
Not only is the weather and extreme temperature a concern but de-icing agents used on walkways and streets can pose a threat if ingested by paw licking.
Here are a few precautions you can take to keep your service dog or pet dog healthy and safe:
1) Keep paws and nails clipped and groomed to minimize the clinging of salt and de-icing chemicals.
2) After walks and when returning from outdoors, wash and wipe your service dog’s or pet’s paws to remove chemicals and de-icing agents.
3) Avoid over bathing your dog during harsh winter weather as repeated bathing eliminates essential skin and fur oils which can lead to stripping of the oils and dry and flaky skin issues.
4) Consider a warmer more insulated service dog vest specifically for colder climate to keep your service dog more comfortable. Winter booties may be necessary for service dogs and pet dogs in extreme weather and can help minimize irritation and accumulation of salts and chemicals between the dog’s toes.
5) Service dogs work hard and they require extra energy during extreme cold temperatures. Provide extra food and water during this time to meet the additional needs of both service dogs and pet dogs.
6) Use common sense. If the weather is uncomfortably cold or harsh for you, then it is likely the same for your service dog or pet. When traveling to new climates it takes some time for your dog to adjust like it does for a person.
With a little extra thought and planning you can enjoy winter weather travel with your dog for many years to come.
Carmel L. Mooney is the Executive Director of Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions, dedicated to training, placing, and partnering service dogs with individuals challenged by Autism Spectrum Disorders. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter (@Dogs4AutismKids).