We adopted Sirius in July of 2009. In December of that year, we had the first of what turned out to be three major snowstorms of the winter.

Dog paw with ice
Ice on Sirius’s paw

On the day the first storm began, I was home and trying to get some chores done before I planned to venture out into the snow to meet a few people coming from the metro.

Sirius came up to me and asked to go outside. I didn’t want to have to stop what i was doing or bundle up twice, so I told him to wait. He looked at me plaintively for a moment before peeing on the floor. He couldn’t wait.

Except during illness, it remains the first and only accident Sirius has had in our house. When he has to go, I take him out, as safely as I can, be it blizzard or hurricane.

I am not proud of this story, but I tell it as a lead in to my tips on things to remember about having a dog during a blizzard.

  1. Your dog has to go out. I don’t suggest taking your dog out as long or far as usual (see #2), but he or she does have to go out. A colleague of mine who has small dogs, recommends putting a tarp down in your yard before the snow starts, so that you can clear a patch of ground after the snow. If we really get over 2 feet, many of us with large dogs will wish we had done this as well.
  2. Dogs get cold. Even if your dog loves the cold and snow, he or she is vulnerable during a snowstorm, especially with high winds. Don’t take your dog too far or allow him or her to stay outside for an extended period. Keep in mind that dogs with little fur and/body fat tend to get cold more easily. Dogs with lots of fur may be more vulnerable to ice and snow balls in their toes.
  3. Bottles of ice melt
    Pet safe ice melt

    Beware the ice melt. You and your pet-loving neighbors can purchase pet-friendly ice melt. However, the towns and cities in our area tend to lay down copious amounts of non pet-friendly ice melt products. Plan to wipe these off your dog’s feet when you get inside, or teach your dog to wipe his or her feet on an old towel or blanket. (With the storm due in a few hours, this last idea might work better for next time.)

  4. Factor your pets into emergency supply purchases. If you lose power, if you are put under a water advisory, if you can’t get to a store for several days, do you have enough food and water for your pets, as well as yourself?

Plan ahead, stay safe, stay warm, and bundle up when you do have to take your dog outside. Because you do have to.

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