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Dog Health Problems and Issues in Winter Season

Shorter days and cooler nights are sure signs that winter has arrived. The jackets and sweaters are taken out of storage, the heater is turned on more often and the dogs have coats that are much thicker than several months ago. First it’s Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas. The kids spend their after-school hours in soccer practice and their evenings doing their homework.

Yes, when winter comes, we all shift our gears to adjust to the cold and chill. However, your dog may need your help adjusting to the season.

What Winter Does to Dogs When the days start getting shorter (after the summer solstice), you’ll notice that the undercoats of northern breeds of dogs and other double-coated dogs grow lush. Most dogs also tend to start eating more. For wild animals like bears, having a voracious appetite means that they develop an extra layer of fat to carry them through the winter. However, when dogs get heavier, it means they become useless as family pets. Instead they’ll play and romp most of the time, often causing delays in household.

It’s usually between the months of October and April when most living happens inside the home. During winter, family members tend to live in very close quarters, increasing the chances of trouble ensuing among family members, dog included.

For instance, your son may get home late because of soccer practice and so he spends his evenings doing homework. Now Bear, the family dog, is used to having your son’s attention after school and this may make Bear feel ignored. Bear starts acting out , chewing or destroying things in the house, forgetting all the housetraining learned.

Helping Your Dog Transition To help your dog with the transition from summer to winter schedules, you and the members of your family need to remember that your dog is a family member too. You all need to make time to walk the dog every day, groom it one or two times each week, feed it two times a day and give it training sessions periodically. Check out Related: Older dog health issues for more info.

Include your dog in family activities. For instance, take the dog when you’re walking around the neighborhood or park or even when you’re going for a short drive. One of the children can groom the dog a little while she watches TV and you or your spouse can talk to the dog while dinner is being fixed to prevent dog health issues.

However, make sure that your dog behaves well; this is the pre-requisite for him to participate in family activities. Your dog must know and obey the basic commands (sit, stay, lie down, come) as they are issued. Whenever you take the dog for a walk, it must walk quietly on leash. If inside the house, the dog must stay in its crate quietly when told to do so, and when riding the family car, the dog must be calm. As the owner, you will need to be consistent, patient and persistent in teaching your dog to be well behaved.

You can take your dog to a training class if needed. Your dog won’t be knocking down grocery bags or jumping on guests if it knows to obey when it hears the command ‘sit.’ It won’t be begging at the dinner table, running around the backseat or walking back and forth in front of the TV if it knows to obey the command ‘down.’

If the dog knows the command ‘stay,’ it can be told to remain with one of your kids anywhere in the house. If your dog is able to walk quietly and calmly on a leash, you can take the dog to parks, playground and even on family outings. If your dog knows to come whenever it is called, then you can be sure that your dog will be safe everywhere you take it.

If your dog is older, you can still teach it to behave. Contrary to the popular saying that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, your old dog can still learn a new trick or two if you are patient and persistent enough. For older dogs, it’s best to make the training sessions fun and short. Lavish your dog with praises. If the first few techniques don’t work, try a few more. Check out your local library for dog training books. Call up dog training clubs and even talk to a few private dog trainers in your area.

Your Dog and Holiday Dangers

The winter season, particularly the upcoming holidays, is particularly dangerous to dogs. Take extra care to keep your dog safe.

- A number of houseplants can be poisonous to your dog. For instance, the holly, dieffenbachia, poinsettia and philodendron are holiday plants whose berries, leaves or stems are poisonous. If you have these plants in the house, make sure you put them in places where your dog will not be able to reach them.

- Halite, the chemical salt used to melt the ice on sidewalks, is poisonous. If your dog walked on sidewalks that have been treated with halite, make sure that you wipe your dog’s feet with damp cloth as soon as your dog returns home. If your driveway and sidewalk gets iced, you may want to use sand instead of halite. While sand will not melt the ice, it will improve traction and will be much safer for your dog.

- Anti-freeze are very toxic. You dog may be attracted to its sweet taste but your dog only needs to consume a teaspoon of anti-freeze for it to die. If anti-freeze spills in your driveway, hose it down right away.

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