We care deeply about the health and welfare of setters everywhere! Ours newsletters will share helpful information on many aspects of care: Grooming, health, training, aging, holistic care, diet, etc. If you have a suggestion for a newsletter topic, please contact us with your suggestions.
Above & Beyond English Setter Rescue wishes all our feathered setter friends, family, and visitors all the best in 2016.
Many of us were spoiled by the warm weather in late December and took advantage by getting our setters groomed and clipped – looking spectacular for the holidays! And now in January we are bundling up in frigid single digit temps!
Now that Ol’ man Winter is finally here – please pay close attention to your setter’s needs!
Not all setters grow a good undercoat. And many of our adopters in geographic climate areas that experience cold winters have actually adopted setters from the south. Many of these new additions may need some extra gear to help them make it through. Even dogs that are used to cold winters may not grow enough coat to keep them warm. And if you have your dog groomed where the undercoat is thinned or coat is clipped short, these kids also may find themselves shivering in the cold. In these situations, think about purchasing a weather proof warm coat to help them retain their body heat and stay dry even on the coldest of snowy days! Puppies and older infirmed dogs especially need to be protected.
Did you know a dog’s paw has hundreds of blood vessels? These, plus lots of fatty tissue, help to keep dogs paws from freezing as they pad around in the ice and snow. Did you know these same blood vessels can also absorb toxins and chemicals from the environment? Please please do NOT use chemical ice melts in dog areas or walkways and driveways where your dogs frequent. These chemicals can be absorbed through the blood vessels and cause harm. If a dog eats these ice melts or licks their paws after walking through it, they can burn their mouth or esophagus. If enough is ingested, these chemicals can even be fatal. There are animal friendly alternative ice melts that are perfectly safe for the fur family and are very effective in melting ice and snow. Safe step and Safe Paw are two of these alternative products.
Have you heard of Mushers Wax or Paw Wax? These are all natural products which can be rubbed on the bottom of paw pads to help dogs have traction on ice. It also is great for dogs who live in homes which have slippery flooring – especially when they have wet feet. The wax would also help on indoor floors. If you have an older dog who struggles when getting up on slippery flooring, the paw wax would be a great benefit for their mobility and prevent them from splaying out their hind legs. It also helps heal dry cracked paw pads. Paw wax is available online and price ranges from $4.95 – $12.00. You can also find Snout Wax for dry cracked noses!
Diets also need to be “winterized”. Does your fur kid prefer to spend most of his/her time out of doors running, playing, hunting birds regardless of the temperature? If this sounds like your baby and you live in a colder winter climate, your baby will need more calories to maintain his/her weight. Their body will burn more calories to stay warm and unless their diet provides these additional calories, weight loss could result. If your dog has a full coat and unless you handle you dogs on a regular basis this weight loss could go unnoticed resulting in a ribby underweight dog come spring. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your baby takes one sniff of that frigid polar air and wants only to be outside long enough for nature’s call and then spend the rest of the day laying on the couch or dog bed, then your baby will need less calories to maintain his/her optimum body weight. Not adjusting the diet will result in packing on some winter weight!
Making sure your dogs are staying hydrated is just as important as making sure they are getting enough calories. When the weather turns cold you may find your dog is drinking less – especially if they are spending a great deal of time outside and their outside water supply is extremely cold or may even be frozen making it impossible to get a drink. Make sure your dog always has fresh clean water. Maybe an electric water bowl is an option. If dogs spend a significant amount of time outside in very cold weather, you may want to consider supplementing with electrolytes. Electrolytes provide energy , nutrients, and supplements which help keep your dog hydrated in times of high physical activity or stress. Extremes in temperature would be considered stress to the body. This is equivalent to your dog drinking a sports drink or Gatorade. Electrolytes are typically mixed in with the water or some can be mixed in with moistened food. Electrolytes will encourage your dogs to keep hydrated.
Cold weather brings snow. Most dogs love to run and play in the snow. Stop! Wait! Is your dog’s playground safe and snow ready? Pick up the yard and put away flower pots, decorative rocks, or statuary which could be buried in the snow and become a hidden hazard. Dogs can trip and fall sustaining significant injuries running into these buried hazards. Dogs can be impaled or sustain cuts or even broken bones. Let them have fun but it is your responsibility to keep them safe!
Now that you have the ground cleared of hazards – look up! Take a look a where your dog is playing and what dangers may exist. Are branches and limbs heavy with ice and snow to the point they can snap and fall on your dogs? Is there a snow load on the roof of your home, garage, or outbuildings? If the answer is yes, does your dog’s play ground bring him into the vicinity where he could get caught if the snow slides off the roof? I know, paranoid, but bad things do happen. If a dog hears something start to slide he or she will likely run from the sound. If your dog is older or infirmed or a young pup, the snow it generally not as high close to a building due to overhangs. They will travel in these lower areas – which puts them in the path of a slide. An older dog may not be able to move quickly or worse yet may be deaf or hard of hearing and never know what’s coming. Watch the roof tops. You can generally see the snow inching over the edge before a slide starts to happen. If you see this sign, keep the kids and fur kids away from these areas until the snow is off the roof.
Dogs are highly intelligent creatures who can make some very bad decisions. Every winter we hear stories of heroic efforts to rescue a dog who broke through the ice into the frigid waters below. Do not let your dogs out unsupervised in areas in which they can get out on a frozen body of water or jump into flowing water regardless of depth. If a dog would go into the water and manage to get out, he/she could easily succumb to hyperthermia, shock, frostbite, or even death. If the worst would happen and your dog decides to join the polar bear club, get him/her out of the water immediately. Take off your coat and wrap it around your dog. Get them into the house immediately. Rub them dry and wrap them up in some warm blankets. Offer some broth. Make sure the gums are a healthy pink. If at anytime your dog doesn’t seem alert or is out of character, get him/her to the vet for supportive care. If your are not close to home when this happens, get your dog into your vehicle and blast the heater. It is a good idea to keep some towels and a blanket in your vehicle. Dry him/her off, wrap in the blanket and home and into a warm environment.
Many dogs are die hards and will play in the snow as long as you let them. Don’t let them over do it – especially older dogs with mobility issues. They may suffer from sore muscles or strains the following day and show lameness from the over exertion. Make sure your dogs have a warm bed to keep them off the cold floors. And if you get a really deep snow – make sure to shovel a dog relief area – especially if you have seniors!
Remember to take some great winter photos of your fur kids in the snow! You can submit them for our 2017 Calendar and calendar contest!
Stay safe and warm everyone!
Author: Eileen Gibson