Friday, January 9, 2009

Winter Weather Safety and Grooming Tips

It's snowing today in Chicago, so we thought we'd review some winter weather safety and share a few grooming tips too.

The ASPCA's Top Ten Cold Weather Tips is a must read. Likewise, the Humane Society of the United States and American Humane offer excellent winter safety information too. So take a moment and review.

If you live in or visit urban areas, winter conditions pose an electric shock risk. We mean, in addition to the obvious risk from downed power lines. Dormant utilities leak excess electricity. When you add salt-based snow and ice melting products (which actually conduct electricity) and wet street and sidewalks to the mix, walking your pooch can become dicey. Use common sense and don't let Fido relieve himself on a metal lamppost and steer clear of metal grates and man hole covers. See this ASPCA article for detailed information. If your dog ever sustains an electric shock, call your vet immediately.

Many people skip their dog’s haircut in the winter believing that a dog needs a longer, thicker coat to keep warm. Hogwash! Except for those poor dogs forced to live outside or working dogs with legitimate outdoor jobs, most modern canine pets live in a temperature controlled home and have no need for a cold weather haircut, other than aesthetics.

If you do opt for a longer winter cut, leave Fido's body only slightly longer than usual and ask your groomer to cut the legs and paws shorter so snow, ice and salt have no place to cling. In addition, be sure that your groomer makes the winter cut balanced. We don't want your best pal to resemble an ottoman on stilts.

Moreover, if Fido is cold, rather than drastically changing his haircut, just put a sweater and boots on him! It’s much easier. But please, remove any canine clothing the minute your dog is inside your nice warm home. A dog can overheat if he’s dressed in too many layers. We’ve seen way too many dogs don their sweaters on the first day of winter and wear them straight through until the first spring thaw. Not only will the dog and sweater stink, but prolonged exposure to clothing causes mats and tangles and prevents air from reaching the skin.

Now that you're in the know, go out and enjoy the winter weather with your furry friend!

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