How to Care for Senior Dogs During Winter Months

Senior-dog-in-snowWhile winter can be hard on all dogs, it’s especially tough on seniors. Veterinarians say it’s important for families who share their lives with a senior dog to be on the lookout for changes in behavior during the winter. For example, is your senior slowing down on walks or losing interest in going outside altogether. Pay attention to how easily a senior dog can rise from a lying down position, or if he or she is reluctant to climb the stairs. Also, families should be on the lookout for any signs of shaking or shivering, or changes in eating habits.

All of these changes could signal a health issue. Being extra sensitive to changes in your senior dog and staying on top of physical exams can go a long way in preventing problems.

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Is There Really a Tick Season in New York State?

dogs and snow

Since we had a blanket of snow and ice on the ground for the last two weeks, I was very surprised to find ticks on our dogs when we returned from a recent hike. It was a sunny day and the temperatures had gone above freezing. According to Cornell University experts, the persistent snow cover helps insulate overwintering ticks in the leaf litter. Once temperatures go above freezing these ticks become active and attach themselves to unsuspecting hosts. Really, the bottom line is that every season is tick season in New York State.

High local deer populations have contributed to a rise in reported Lyme disease cases in people and pets in New York State and the surrounding areas, according to Cornell University. My husband and I were both bitten by infected ticks last year and had to be treated with antibiotics. Now, we’ve become experts at spotting those tiny black specks on our dogs’ legs during hikes in the woods. There are always some of those pesky ticks that escape our notice. Usually, they are hiding behind the dogs’ ears or have already embedded into the skin on their necks. These we find later either dead on our floors – thanks to flea and tick preventative – or crawling between the bristles of a grooming brush.

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How to Design a Dog-Friendly Garden

 

schnauzer-smelling-roses

For those of you planning a dog-friendly garden, it’s important to think about your pet’s safety before ordering plants and fertilizers. The ASPCA Poison Control Center (APCC) recently announced the top ten toxins of 2016 based on calls to the poison control hotline. Of the 180,639 hotline calls, 2.6 percent involved gardening products, including herbicides and fungicides, and 5.2 percent were plant related.It’s surprising how many popular plants are toxic to our pets. Here are just a few examples: azalea, begonia, caladium, daffodil, daylily, dahlia, Easter lily, hydrangea, and iris. The APCC provides a search-based Poisonous Plants page where you can look up your favorite plants and see if they are safe for your pets.

Designing for Dogs

While it’s great to have soft sun-drenched grassy areas in your dog-friendly garden, it’s just as important to provide shady spots by planting trees or adding a pergola or dog kennel. A water feature such as a fountain or a faucet with a drinking station for the dogs is also a necessity.

Dog-friendly gardens should include spaces where a dog can play safely and roam freely. Experts at the Borst Landscape and Design in Allendale, NJ, recommend using small fences or dense shrubbery to block off areas off limits to dogs. A combination of patio and paver as, well as grass and mulch materials can be used for pathways and play areas. When choosing hardscape patio and paver materials keep in mind that the darker color stone will attract more heat. During summer months these stones can cause injury to a dog’s paw pads. Lighter colors such as field stone of blue stone are a better choice.

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