Dog Days of Winter

Dog Days of Winter

Keeping Park City’s Canines Safe, Warm and Happy

By Alexandra Frisch

It should come as no surprise that a majority of Park City’s four-legged residents love the winter months as much as their human counterparts. Every day we are reminded that our canine companions enjoy the array of outdoor activities our four-season town has to offer: lounging dogs on Main Street, agile sprinters on the rail trail, bold explorers in the backcountry; our pets are equally as blessed as we are.

As winter begins to creep into the mountains, dogs and humans alike are tantalized with the anticipation of first snowfall. Here are some helpful safety tips for keeping your furry friend safe this winter.

Keeping Warm: Fur Isn’t Flawless
Winter brings dark days and chilly temperatures capable of causing hypothermia or frostbite to even the plushest of pet coats. Hypothermia can result from extended exposure to cold and is a life-threatening condition. Watch your dog for signs of shivering, shallow breathing, weak pulse or lethargy. Frost bite is a temperature-related tissue injury and most commonly occurs on ears, tails or feet. Signs include discolored skin, swelling or blisters. Make sure to check your pet often for signs of frostbite which may be hidden beneath fluffy fur.

Dogs with a short coat or low body fat will benefit from water-resistant or insulated sweaters and coats, while long-haired canines can sport a thinner layer, relying mostly on their natural protection. Allowing long- haired dogs’ coats to grow out in the winter is the best natural protection against the elements. Tufts of fur between the padding on feet can help prevent winter cracking. However, be sure to wash your pets feet after outdoor walks as de-icing agents may become embedded into the paw and cause harm. A simple, effective, and stylish way to prevent damage to your canine’s paws is snow booties. Just like our feet need to stay dry and warm to feel comfortable, so do our pets.

Keeping Healthy: Water and Extra Calories Make the Difference
Water remains an important issue in extremely cold weather. It can freeze within an hour outside when the temperature drops below freezing.

Many pet stores have heated bowls for water and food. Plastic feeding bowls tend to be the best, that way your dog’s warm facial skin does not get stuck to cold materials such as metal.
Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors in the winter need more food. Maintaining warmth depletes energy at a rapid rate. Make sure to bring extra food if planning a winter weekend activity or to add an extra scoop of kibble before settling down from a hard day’s hike.

Keeping Safe: Watch Out for Common Winter Chemicals
Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although this tasty treat smells delectable to our pets, it is in fact, lethal. It only takes a small quantity of antifreeze’s active ingredient, ethylene glycol, to cause serious damage to your pet’s body. A quick and effective way to help absorb any chemicals spills is by spreading sand or cat liter over the area. If you think your pet has ingested chemicals call your vet immediately.

Being home to the “greatest snow on Earth” makes Park City one of the greatest places to live. Sunny days give way to swells of fluffy powder, après ski takes over Main Street and all over town the sounds of rejoicing canines can be heard from within the winter white-out. So before heading out to explore the winter wonders, make sure to consider these quick safety tips.

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