Redpaw Fitness™ Fit Tips

Combat the Cold

As the winter weather sets in, don't forget your canine companions may need a little extra attention. Here are some easy tips to combat the cold.

Toenails

Keep an eye on your dog's toenails. When the ground is covered in snow, the surface is less abrasive and will not wear down your dog's toenails as quickly as during warmer months. Check them every two weeks and trim as needed. Frequent trimmings of small portions are better than less frequent, larger clippings.

Salt Residue

If you live where salt is used on the roads, sidewalks and other areas, examine your dog's feet after exposure and wipe them with a damp cloth to remove any salt residue. Salt will dry out your dog's pads and cause cracking.

Snow Build-Up

Snow and ice often build up between dogs' toes. It is helpful to trim any excess fur that is growing on the bottom of your dog's feet. Do not remove hair between the toes, but do remove any hair that is overlapping the pads or that is long and sticking up. This will reduce the amount of snow/ice buildup and will also improve your dog's traction on slick surfaces.

Hypothermia Concerns

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can result in a drop in body temperature, especially if your dog is wet. Signs of hypothermia may include intense shivering, listlessness, and a rectal temperature below 97degrees Fahrenheit. To treat, wrap your dog in a warm blanket and bring indoors. If wet, rub vigorously with dry towels until your dog is dry. You can also use warm packs (at baby bottle temperature) and place them in your dog's armpits, and on their chest and abdomen. A hair dryer may also be used. As your dog warms make sure water and food are available.

Strains and Sprains

Slipping and sliding on slick surfaces can lead to muscle sprains and strains. If you see your dog slip and then notice him/her favoring a limb, you may want to check for a pulled muscle or similar injury. Palpate the suspect area and keep an eye peeled for any reaction that may indicate an injury. If you identify a strained muscle you can treat it by alternating cold and hot packs for 20 minutes each. Muscle strains take weeks to heal properly so minimize activity during this time.

Hydration

Winter humidity levels are often lower than the warmer months, both inside and outside the home. These lower humidity levels will result in your dog losing more fluids during the normal course of activity. Keep clean, fresh water available at all times. Add water to your dog's food and encourage water consumption as much as possible.

Summer Heat

The summer heat is on. For us it's easy to break out the shorts, tank tops, and icy summer drinkss. But for your dog, it's not so easy to stay cool. Here are 8 simple tips to help keep your favorite canine cool and hydrated this summer.

1. Bait the Water

If your dog is hesitant to drink or drinks very little, try lightly baiting his/her water. A little kibble, some meat, or leftover juices from one of your meals will entice your dog to drink more water.

2. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle - of water, that is)

Train your dog to drink out of a squirt bottle. Not only can you give your dog sips of water but, more importantly, you can rinse out your dog's mouth, removing the drool so he/she cools more efficiently.

3. Cold Feet

Another great use for a water bottle is to squirt water between your dog's toes and foot pads. You can also squirt water onto your dog's belly. All these things will help cool him/her down.

4. What's the Hurry?

Whatever you're doing, remember to take frequent breaks to allow your dog to relax.

5. Bowl - ing for Water

Make sure your dog is drinking water before and after exercise. A simple way to get your dog to drink more is to add water to his/her meal. Once trained and habituated, a dog will often drink an extra 2-4 cups of water with his/her meal.

Use a large, shallow bowl or pan for a water dish. When the water in the dish is less than 1 inch deep your dog will consume more.

6. Morning, [Not] Noon and Night

Exercise your dog during the cooler times of the day.

7. Steer Clear

If possible, avoid hot surfaces like pavement and contained spaces near buildings.

8. Be Fit. Live Fit. Together.

Your dog will acclimate to the warmer temperatures as summer progresses; you will be able to increase your activities as this happens. Also, keep in mind: the more fit your dog, the easier it is for him/her to maintain a healthy temperature.