Interview with Dr. Dylan: Winter Dog Safety

We are thrilled to announce a new blog series where we interview Dr. Dylan Frederickson, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and founder of Boulevard Veterinary (BLVD). Just as we believe in the power of individualized attention, so too does the team of experts at BLVD’s Logan Square and River North locations, providing unhurried, thorough exams and intuitive veterinary care. We are both grateful for Dr. Dylan’s enthusiasm to collaborate with us and excited to share his expertise!

Every few months, we’ll ask Dr. Dylan our most pressing dog-related questions and share his responses here on the blog. Since we’re facing a historic polar vortex and super subzero temperatures, we first wanted to cover how to protect our furry loved ones from such frigid conditions.

Read on for winter dog safety tips in our first interview with Dr. Dylan!

Getting to Know Dr. Dylan

Can you first tell us a little bit about yourself and how you decided to become a vet?

DF: I grew up on a dairy farm in Central Wisconsin. As a kid, I loved spending time with the veterinarians who came to our farm to treat our cows, horses, dogs, cats and any other creature who needed attention. I started spending what little free time I had riding with them in their vet trucks learning all I could about veterinary medicine. Eventually those veterinarians wrote me letters of recommendation for veterinary school and the rest is history!

How did you decide to start BLVD?

DF: I saw a need for a high quality yet friendly, neighborhood veterinary practice in Logan Square, and later on, in River North. I enjoy business ownership as much as veterinary medicine. More and more, veterinary clinics are becoming corporately owned behind the scenes because of industry consolidation. I felt BLVD could do a better job than corporate-owned practices while keeping it locally and family owned.

Winter Dog Safety Tips

What are your biggest concerns for pets in these subzero temps?

DF: Frostbite of the paws is a risk with these temperatures—even for pets with attentive owners. For pets that are left outside longer than 15 minutes, hypothermia is possible—especially if they have a smooth or thin haircoat and are not accustomed to the outdoors.

Warmth in numbers and fast transit! [Source]

What should pet owners do when their dog starts to pick up its paws, especially if you haven't been outside long enough for the pet to go potty?

DF: If a a dog is not acclimated to the cold (i.e., lives indoors) it's really essential to put something on the paws. I really like the Pawz rubber dog booties. They look like thick balloons.

For the majority of dogs, you don't need anything thicker than that, and they are well-tolerated and hard for them to shake off. It's what I use for my own dog and he's the biggest baby ever when it comes to his feet. Without them he lasts about 60 seconds on a subzero day (picking up his paws and wailing) and with them on, he's happy as a clam for a 15-minute walk. It's amazing how much a thin layer of rubber makes a difference for a dog.

Ready to go! [Source]

What indoor exercises do you recommend to make sure dogs still receive enough physical activity during the winter?

DF: A good game of fetch in the basement or the condo hallway (if they allow it) can help blow off steam. Some dogs love laser pointers (mine does) and will chase it for hours. In general though, it's really only the extremely cold days (subzero) where it's unsafe for dogs to go outside. Any other day shouldn't be a problem as long as you cover those paws, and put a jacket on them if they don't have a naturally thick coat.

Bonus points for this level of exercise. [Source]

Are there any other hidden dangers you've seen for dogs during these winter months?

DF: Salt can be a problem. Fortunately, booties can help prevent injuries to the feet. Another problem I've seen is often if there is a "boot area" in the house where people take off their boots and shoes, a thin layer of salt film can form. I've seen dogs develop severe skin reactions if they happen to lie on that area of the floor.

Dogs that are prone to obesity also tend to pack on the pounds in the winter, so definitely continue to schedule daily walks of at least 15 minutes for any dog healthy enough to walk. Ideally they should be getting 30 minutes of exercise a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Have stylish jacket, will walk. [Source]

Questions for Dr. Dylan

Do you have a question you’d like us to ask Dr. Dylan for our next edition in the series? Send us an email and we’ll make sure to include it.

Until Next Time

Thanks, BLVD Vet, for keeping our pets healthy and thriving this winter, and thanks, Dr. Dylan, for taking the time to answer our questions!

Now get out there and have some (safe) fun this winter! [Source]

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