K9 Operations In The Winter

Winter is in full swing and hitting some areas of the U.S. pretty hard. Back in July, I wrote the article “Canine Health in the Heat”. Just as with the heat, there are health concerns in the winter months and operational issues.

When it comes to bathing, it’s just a little more work during the winter.  Bathe your partner as usual, but then thoroughly towel-dry him/her.  If necessary, use a hair dryer on low heat, and keep it away from their nose and ears.  You wouldn’t take a shower and then walk out into the freezing weather all wet would you? Don’t do that to your partner.

Just as you would any other time of year, maintain your equipment.  Frequently inspect all your leads, harnesses and collars for damage.  If a piece of equipment is overly worn or damaged, take it out of service if necessary and replace it.  If it is still serviceable, then clean it according to manufacturer’s guidelines.  I’m not a fan of nylon leads or collars, especially during winter months.  They soak up moisture and freeze.  This is not comfortable for your canine and makes the leads less workable.  I prefer leather leads; although they may stiffen up from the cold, they will still be flexible.

One last tip that everyone should do for the protection of all small animals.  As you approach your vehicle, look for paw prints.  Many small animals, whether they be cats, skunks, etc, will be looking for a warm place to hide from the elements.  The engine puts off a lot of heat for a while after it is shut off, so it isn’t uncommon for a small animal to sleep in the engine compartment of a vehicle.  If you see paw prints, make some noise, bang on the hood to scare them away, and if necessary, open the hood and check for any animals.  Just be warned, it could be a skunk, so don’t get sprayed.

Have a warm and healthy winter.

Stay Safe!


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