Keep dogs’ paws safe this winter

As most dog owners know, regular walks and outdoor playtime are hard on paws in winter. Here are some tips for keeping your pup’s paws safe.

  • Don’t leave your dog outside unattended, even in a secured area that they’re used to roaming during warm weather. Keeping a close eye on your pooch is key to making sure the cold isn’t taking its toll.

    Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
    Just because I’m fluffy doesn’t mean I’m impervious to cold. Keep me safe in winter!
  • Shorten time spent outdoors, especially in extreme cold. Obviously, the less time exposed, the better. If you’re on a walk and your dog starts showing signs of being too cold (shaking his paws when he picks them up or even limping), it’s time to turn around and go home—whether he did his business or not.
  • Gear up with a coat and booties, if your dog will tolerate it. Some dogs can’t stand wearing clothes, and some don’t even need them, but if your dog has a wiry or thin coat with just a single layer of fur, it needs some protective gear. Even if she’ll only wear booties on her hind paws, it’s still better than nothing in extreme cold.
  • Stick to the grass instead of salted pavement. The salt that’s essential to keeping sidewalks safe for human pedestrians can seriously hurt a dog’s paws, so keep your dog walking in grassy areas, and if possible/necessary, carry her over salted patches of pavement.
  • Clean your dog’s paws as soon as you get back inside. Use a clean towel to wipe down all four paws, thaw out any clumps of snow that might have gotten caught in long fur, and check between the pads of each paw to make sure no salt has gotten stuck.
  • Don’t allow your dog to lick its paws. Excessive licking can cause sores (and stinky feet!), but it’s also a sign that your dog’s paws hurt. If you notice him licking, give his paws a closer look and make sure they’re clean and  not injured in any way.
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Christmas safety

By this time of the year, most halls have already been decked, but for those who haven’t gotten around to trimming their tree, here are some safety tips.

  • Know what kind of tree you’re allowed to have. If you’re living in a rental, chances are your landlord doesn’t allow real trees. Real trees are a much more serious fire hazard, so make sure you follow your landlord’s rules.

    Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
    Don’t let me eat the Christmas lights!
  • Decorate the tree evenly. If your decorations are concentrated too densely on one side of the tree, the extra weight could cause your tree to topple, so distribute weight as evenly as possible.
  • Keep decorations away from heat sources. Make sure no tinsel is touching radiators and that nothing is dangling into the fireplace.
  • Use only indoor lights indoors. Christmas lights are designed to for use either indoors or outdoors, so if you want to string lights inside your home, make sure they’re designed for indoor use.
  • Also, use only outdoor lights outdoors. Just like indoor lights are designed for safe use indoors, make sure the lights you use to decorate the outside of your home are designed for outdoor use.
  • Secure decorations so they can’t be torn down or damaged by children or pets. The safest way to do this is to place or hang them well out of reach.
  • When in doubt, don’t put it up. If you’re not sure it’s safe, don’t use the decoration. This is especially important with regard to fire hazards and child safety.

Put a leash on it

As most dog owners know, leash laws vary from place to place and the rules about whether your dog is allowed off leash in a certain area or not aren’t always clear. When in doubt, keep your dog on its leash.

Even dogs that are well trained and obedient when running off leash can become unpredictable in new situations. Some of the worst areas to let your dog off the leash are high traffic areas where cars and people, some of them with other dogs, pass by frequently. This area might be right outside your front door and your dog might think of it as an extension of its territory, but that doesn’t mean it will stay put no matter what. A new dog or a new person might come by and provoke a reaction. Even if your dog wants to run off just to say hi, it’s still running off and out of your control. Especially if it turns out that the other dog isn’t friendly, things could get ugly. Another scenario to consider: what if your dog wants to greet a person who is afraid of dogs? You might assure them that your dog is friendly and won’t hurt them, but that’s like trying to tell Indiana Jones that the snakes in the pit don’t mean him harm. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to not only keep your dog safe, but to make sure it respects other animals and people who don’t want to interact with it.

Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
Even the best behaved dog can have a lapse in obedience. Keep your dog safe by keeping it on its leash.

So where is it OK to let your dog roam off leash? Your local dog park is the ideal place. The area is fenced in so Fido can’t run far, and the whole point of it is to have a safe space for friendly dogs to socialize. Many dog friendly apartment communities like Alvern Gardens and Cloverleaf Village have dog parks for their residents to enjoy. These parks are designed for those who don’t have a fenced in yard of their own to give their dogs exercise in a safe place. So why even bother letting your dog off the leash anywhere else?

Consider this as well: if you live in an apartment community, your landlord might have rules about keeping your dog on a leash when walking the community grounds. Abiding the rules of your community is important not just because the rules are in place for a reason, but because breaking the rules has consequences. For example, if you let your dog off the leash in and your landlord has prohibited this, you could lose the privilege of having a pet in the apartment at all. You could even be evicted for breaking the terms of your lease.

Whether you already have a dog or are thinking about adopting one, familiarize yourself with the leash laws of your county and state, as well as any ordinances that might be in place in your municipality. If you do choose to let your dog off its leash, always have the leash handy to reel your dog back under your control if needed.