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Posted on 11-15-2016

Winter is almost upon us, the days are getting shorter, the sky is cloudy, and the leaves are falling. You no longer have to worry about heat exhaustion and dehydration with your animals, but there may be some considerations in the winter that you hadn’t thought of. Here are a few ideas on how to have fun and be safe with your pet through fall and into winter!


The glorious day of feasting has nearly arrived; Thanksgiving is what really sets the fall season in motion at our house. This holiday is all about the food. With all of the hype and flurry of visitors, it is easy to forget about the furry members of the family.

 Remind visitors that the human food is for the humans only! Turkey bones, bread dough, and desserts can pose a great risk to your pets. It can be tempting to share with your furry pal (who could resist those big brown eyes?!), but trust me when I say they won’t feel left out if you don’t share.

Instead, give your pet a special meal of his or her own! Brutus LOVES canned food. On special occasions, we will buy him a can of dog food to eat while everyone else is chowing down. There are some pet food companies that even market canned foods as a thanksgiving dinner just for this occasion! When choosing a special treat for your pet, remember to follow the guidelines we discussed in our previous blog post: What Brand of Pet Food Should I Buy? Why are thanksgiving foods harmful for our pets? The ASPCA explains that nicely with their Thanksgiving Safety Tips page.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Our late dog Flash loved the snow! Thankfully, he passed this love on to Brutus and we frequently play fetch with snowballs during the winter as a favorite pastime. With the snow come the slippery sidewalks and the ice melt chemicals. If you are walking your pet out of doors in the winter, be sure to clean off paws before coming inside as the ice melt products can be irritating to their feet. You also don’t want them to lick snow off of their paws and potentially ingest these chemicals. If you want to avoid wiping paws every time you leave the house, they make little booties for dogs to wear outside. Here is one example.

Another product to look out for is anti-freeze. People tend to use this more in the winter. The ethylene glycol contained in anti-freeze makes it sweet to the taste, but is also why it can be fatal to animals. A list of symptoms and possible treatments can be found at petmd.com.

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful!

If your dog lives or spends a considerable amount of time out of doors, be aware of plummeting nighttime temperatures. Ideally your pet would be housed in an indoor space, but if that isn’t possible, here is the Humane Society of Utah’s guidelines for cold weather. If it is cold enough to freeze, be sure that your pet has access to water and not ice. Also avoid using heating pads in a doghouse or kennel area as your pet may be seriously burned without realizing it in an attempt to keep warm.

Happy Holidays!

We put up a Christmas tree at our house, and each year I wonder, why bother? With a cat, a dog, and a baby, our tree ends up losing all it’s ornaments and falls over at least once. If you are planning on having a Christmas tree or Holiday tree – be sure to anchor it well! Our office manager Pam has two cats that LOVE to sleep in her tree. In fact, pictured here is Marissa in the act of breaking the Christmas tree last year.

(I don’t think she looks very remorseful…)

If possible, securely anchor your tree to avoid injury! Also, if you plan on getting a real tree, keep pets from drinking the tree’s water or chewing on branches. When decorating your home, consider using artificial plants. Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are generally considered toxic to animals if ingested, and many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Always supervise your pet around any new decorations, especially if your furry friend has a history of eating non-food items. Absolutely avoid using tinsel, string, or yarn of any kind. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these items, call us immediately!

As usual, avoid giving human foods to your animal pal, even if they really want it. Here is a list of people foods to avoid.

Mush, mush, mush!

If you live in Utah but hate the snow, I send my deepest apologies. Once the holidays are over the snow remains (sometimes indefinitely) and cabin fever sets in for both our canine pals and us. Here are some fun things to do in the winter with your dog (sorry cats, but these activities may not be for you).

  1. Have you tried skijoring? It is cross-country skiing with your dog; it looks like a lot of fun and is a great way to drain excess energy! Look here to see if skijoring is an appropriate activity for your dog.
  2. Make a DIY agility course and have fun teaching your dog a few tricks. Do this over carpet so it isn’t too slippery, and make sure the obstacles aren’t easily knocked down. Here are a few agility tips.
  3. Send your pup to a doggy day care for some socializing indoors. K9 lifeline has Saturday socials as well as day care, but Brutus also loves Camp Bow Wow in South Salt Lake.
  4. If your dog is a big time beach bum and misses swimming, Barley’s Canine Recreation Center has an indoor pool! Swimming is a great low impact form of exercise to help keep Fido looking trim over the winter.

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