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It's Snow Use

dog in snow (Photo: Timothy Gower)
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For a small dog, taking a walk has become a big challenge on the East Coast. Nina, a cairn terrier, eventually managed to summit this snow wall in Harwich, Massachusetts (with the help of her human) and continue on her way.

The weather out there is frightful for both man and beast, so keep these safety tips in mind.

Dress yourself, your kids and your dog appropriately. For the humans, that means warm layers (not cotton, which holds moisture) and of course, a hat and gloves or mittens (mittens are warmer than gloves). Dress your dog in a sweater or coat if he’s one to get cold.

Watch for frostbite. It happens most often to fingers and toes, and to the face — chin, nose, cheeks and ears. The skin will turn pale and feel cold to the touch. As frostbite progresses, it will turn white, waxy or grayish-yellow. Get inside and get medical help. Do not rub or massage the skin.

Don’t fall on the ice. A fall on the ice can be an accident you’ll regret for days, weeks or even months to come. To stay upright on icy streets, walk like a penguin: Spread your feet wide and put your arms out to your sides for balance. Bend your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity. Keep your steps small.

Be kind to your pooch’s paws. Chemicals and salt used to treat snow and ice can irritate the pads on his feet. And ice can accumulate between his toes. Wipe his paws with a damp towel as soon as you walk in the door. Use a dab of petroleum jelly if pads are cracked or sore.

Make sure your dog is tagged and chipped. It’s easier for a dog to get lost when the ground is covered in snow, which can erase smells that normally would help him find his way home. If you don’t trust him to stay by your side, keep him on a leash.

Fill that food bowl. Keeping warm in cold weather takes more energy. If your dog is spending time outdoors, consider feeding him a little more than usual. Make sure his water bowl is full, too.

Visit Your Cold-Weather Survival Guide for more tips.