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By Dawn Celapino
February 25, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Has your dog ever been in the snow?  Most active dogs love it!  They are like kids, romping and running in the fresh powder. There are, however, a few things that you need to know if you plan on taking Fido on a snow vacation, especially if they are not used to the cold.


1/ Be diligent with your dog’s feet.  The snow can get stuck in between the pads and cause cuts and damage so check them often and dry them off after coming indoors.   You can apply petroleum jelly to protect their feet from drying and cracking. Keep the feet hair trimmed, but not too short, to help prevent ice from forming.

2/ If you plan on being in the snow for a long period of time, you may want to consider booties for Fido.  Many companies make them and they will keep their feet warm and safe from the elements.  If they do not do well with booties, then try the latex ones or try Musher's Secret, it is a waxy substance that can be applied to their feet to protect them from ice, salt or other elements.
3/ Dogs, like people,  can get dehydrated exercising in the cold so make sure they are drinking water if they are running a lot.  They also burn more calories in the cold so give them a little extra food or a few more healthy treats.  
4/ Most dogs already have fur coats ready for winter but if you have a short haired dog, especially one that is used to being in the house, you may want to buy a sweater or jacket for him/her or limit their time outside.
5/ The following are a few fun exercises to do with your dog in the snow:
  • Have a snow ball fight!!  Dogs like to chase and catch snowballs
  • Have a race in the snow—who can run the fastest in the powder
  • If you have a dog that is used to running distances, take them cross country sking
  • You and your dog may like Skijoring, the dog is hooked to a harness and pulls you while you are on ski’s.  Obviously small dogs can’t take part but most big dogs would LOVE to pull you.
Having fun with Fido in the snow can be really fun.  A lot of dogs do not want any part of the snow but you can try to “warm them” up to the idea by making it a lot of fun and by keeping them active, they will stay warm. 
Dawn Celapino is a personal trainer and owner of Leash Your Fitness, a workout class for you and your dog in San Diego, CA.  Her and her dog, Jack, love all outdoor activities as long as they are together.


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