Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 4: Too cold for outside!

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It’s snowing outside, freezing cold, and you can’t get your dog her normal exercise.  You still have to go to work, and you need a way to get her some activity.  This is when being creative goes a long way!  This week is our final installment on caring for your dog during cold weather, and we’re focusing on indoor activities.  Below are a few tricks on how to keep your pet exercised when spending a lot of time outside is not an option:

Games

Does your dog have favorite toys or treats?  Maybe even a family member?  Play hide-and-go-seek as a way to get your dog’s brain working in overdrive from the comfort of your home.

For a less DIY approach, there are puzzle toys, which can be filled with food or treats.  If your dog is watching his waistline, try feeding meals from these toys instead of in a bowl.  It will take more time than wolfing down dinner the normal way, and be a lot more interesting for him.  Just be sure to supervise use of these toys, just in case.

Training

Learning takes A LOT of energy.  Harness that and take 20 minutes to do a quick training session with your dog.  Work on leash commands within the ready-to-go obstacle course that is your apartment, or teach your dog a new trick.  Make sure to use lots of treats to keep it fun and high energy!  A few sessions like this in a day will minimize how long your walks need to be, and make for an all star pooch when the weather warms up.

Dr. Sophia Yin‘s website has a wealth of information and images on how to work on specific manners in a way that makes it easy and fun for you and your dog.

Befriend your super and neighbors!

Many buildings have long hallways, open basement areas, or other limited-access spots that might serve as an option for indoor activity.  Think games of fetch, training areas, and general romping when the park isn’t a good option.  (Just make sure to get your building on board before hand!)

Play groups

Your neighbors are probably facing the same winter weather issues as you.  Do any of them have friendly dogs that would benefit from a little play time?  If so, clear an area in one of your apartments and set up a play group.  This is a great way to let them burn some energy and get to know your neighbors.  You may even find someone who is able to help out trading dog walks and pet sitting down the line.

When you are lacking in K9 neighbors, you’ll be sure to find lots of play companions at doggie day cares.  Doggedly Devoted is a great facility near our office in Harlem, with lots of indoor space set up for dogs to play while you are at work.

 

If you’re worried that your pet isn’t getting enough exercise, let us know!  We’ll help you find resources to get you through to the Spring when long walks are an option again!

What table scraps can cats eat? Our holiday guide for felines.

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Most of our patients and cats in NYC will be indoors for the winter, but even normally indoor-outdoor cats will be spending more time inside during the inclement weather, and have plenty of time to get themselves in trouble!

Table scraps

So what can you safely feed your cat after Thanksgiving?  Luckily, it’s one of the holidays where a little table scraps are safe!  It’s all about turkey for cats, and they can eat a little of your roasted bird without worries.  Try to offer the white meat (lower fat and easier to digest), and be sure to avoid any bones.  In general it’s not a good idea to feed them raw meat (Salmonella risk to them and you!), but some cooked turkey is just fine.  If your family eats ham or beef, they can also have a little of this.  The key is moderation — a little goes a long way!

Cats are carnivores, so they don’t need vegetables, but if you want to try a little green bean or broccoli that’s OK, too.  Avoid onions and garlic, and any sauces or spices.

Decoration dangers

The real fun for cats is in knocking down your Christmas tree, eating tinsel, and chewing up light cords.  We’ve even known cats who tried to play with lit candles!  Make sure that any tempting items are well out of your cat’s reach, and if anything does get eaten, have him checked out ASAP.  The longer something sits in the stomach, the less likely we are to be able to get it out without surgery and complications.

Winter warnings

During the colder months, cats are more at risk for injury from toxic exposures (antifreeze, poisonous plants, medications), traumatic injuries (hiding in car engines and wheel wells to stay warm), and burns (lit candles, fireplaces, radiators).  Get rid of, or safely store, any toxic items in the house.  Be aware of houseguests who may have mediation with them and keep it in a safe place.  If your cat goes outside, make sure he has a safe place to stay warm so he is less likely to crawl into dangerous spaces.  For indoor cats, be wary of candles and fires.

If your cat has managed to get into trouble, we’re here for you!  We are happy to field calls anytime you are concerned, and would rather  have the chance to tell you not to worry than wish we could have intervened sooner.  Contact us anytime you are concerned.

Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 3: Visibility

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Over the winter months, most New Yorker’s dog walking hours are dark.  For pups on leash and on sidewalks, this isn’t a major concern, but in some parks and off leash areas, visibility is a concern.  Make sure other people, vehicles, and animals can see your pet, and avoid unnecessary accidents.

There are a range of visibility products on the market, and we’ve got a rundown of our favorites below:

Lights

One of the simplest ways to quickly update your pet for dark hours is to attach a light to his collar or harness.  They are small, inexpensive, durable, and easy to replace if needed.  They’re unlikely to bother your pet if she already wears tags.

Reflective Apparel

Much like our own athletic wear, many brands now make dog apparel with built in reflective fabric to improve visibility.  While it may not be enough in truly dark conditions, it doesn’t hurt to add it to the getup.  As a bonus, where smaller lights may be hidden in some positions, larger jackets and harnesses are easy to spot from all directions.

  • The Rambo dog rug is an insulated coat with lots of reflective surface!
  • Looking for cute and safe?  Etsy has lots of stores that make fashion coats with reflective fabrics; they can often make them to your dog’s specific measurements, too!
  • Petflect makes bright reflective collars

Collars and Leashes

Some new collars are available with built in lights that can be activated only when needed.  This simple collar swap will keep your pet visible all winter long.

  • Shine for Dogs makes a collar that is rechargeable and can be set to flash or stay lit solidly; as an added bonus, part of the proceeds go to help rescue dogs!
  • Nite Ize makes a variety of options, including this necklace (and check out their LED ball and frisbee for fetch in the dark!)
  • Squeaker Dog makes super bright leashes in a range of colors
  • Keep Doggies Safe has a harness option for dogs who don’t wear collars

Out of the city

Be mindful of time spent out of the city, and be sure to check local alerts for hunting seasons and other restrictions.  If you will be in areas with active hunting, be sure to bring appropriate attire for yourself and your pets.  This really needs to be a step beyond general visibility wear to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Orvis makes a bright visibility vest that is a good example

We’ll be taking a break from our cold weather series next week to give some much overdue attention to our feline friends.  Check back in two weeks for our final installment, discussing how to modify exercise during inclement weather, and keep your active dog happy, even when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating!

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com

Cold Weather for Dogs, Part 2: Paw Protection

 

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This week we’re talking about what is probably the most important cold weather accessory for your dog — paw protection!  Dogs’ paw pads are naturally insulated against the cold, but they don’t have much protection against slipping on ice, or salt burns.  Make sure to have something on hand this winter in case snow fall, and the cleanup that follows, puts your pup at risk.

 

Dog Booties

Rubber Balloon Booties — such as those made by Pawz are an inexpensive option, and come in packs with a few full sets, so if they wear out you have backup ready.  They are water proof, and easy to put on.  Make sure they fit snuggly over your dog’s foot to prevent them flopping off on walks.  Be careful not to ‘snap’ them onto your pet’s ankle — it will feel like a rubber band being smacked against your skin, and may put him off wearing them.

Velcro Sewn Booties — these tend to be heavier duty, and are less likely to wear out.  DuraPaws makes one of the more utilitarian options.  This type of boot can be bulkier, and are more expensive.  Unlike the rubber options, they do offer some insulation against cold if your pet is sensitive.

Non-Boot Options

Musher’s Secret is the classic example of a non-boot paw protector.  This wax mix comes in a variety of sized tubs, and can be wiped onto the surface of your dog’s paws.  For dogs who do not tolerate wearing booties, but need some protection from salt, this can be a good option.  It is unlikely to irritate their paws, and can be cleaned off easily after walks.  The main downside is that it may need to be reapplied for longer excursions.

For the extremely particular dog (we know some out there…), putting anything on paws may not be an option.  If this is the case with your pet, just be mindful of the surfaces she is walking on.  If there is a lot of salt on the pavement, try to walk her over areas with fresh-ish snow, and wipe paws down regularly.  Avoid slippery ice and prolonged walks.  If you dog does suddenly hold up one leg on a walk, check the paw, and wipe it with your glove or some snow to relieve sharp salt burns.

 

If you’re worried that none of the above will work for your pooch, contact us to discuss what might be right for him.

 

Uptown Vets   –   295 West 112th St, New York, NY

(212) 222-1221   –   info@uptownvetsnyc.com