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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Winter Dangers for Dogs with Cancer

Updated: December 9th, 2020

Even as I begin writing this post I sigh at the title “Winter Dangers”.  It just seems that everywhere we turn there is a threat! And constantly being on guard can be exhausting!

So I offer this to you both from the perspective of caring for your dog with cancer, who may be more vulnerable during the winter, as well as safeguarding your other dogs, and all those to come.

I’m going to make this an easy one; like a to-do list for the winter months.  If you live in a climate where snow is a four-letter word and you don’t experience the magic of a frosty morning, some of this may not apply.  But please read on anyway.

Winter Dangers for Dogs: The To-Do List

Secure all antifreeze, de-icers, and other chemical treatments.      

Antifreeze poisoning can be lethal to our pets. Many winter products have antifreeze or similar chemicals, and for some reason they are also delicious. Few dogs or cats can pass a spill, drip or puddle of the stuff without licking it up. Don’t let this be your holiday story. And don’t think that the ‘salt’ we put on our sidewalks is safe. It contains a chemical as well, and our dogs accumulate it on their paws and coat. The chemicals can be absorbed through the paw pads, but also our dogs tend to lick their irritated paws and can ingest it directly. Please always clean paws after going out in the cold, or use doggie boots.

Protect your dog from the cold!  

A dog with cancer does not have the body condition or constitution he had before to thrive on a good winter walk.  Treat him to an especially winter-type coat that will keep him warm, and shorten the walks when it’s too cold outside. Feet, especially hairy feet will accumulate snow and frozen mud in between the toes which can irritate or bruise the pads. You can get weather-appropriate boots for your dog to help prevent this.

Protect your dog from the heat!

Snug homes are a blessing when it’s cold outside. But fireplaces and central heating can be too much if your dog is confined to the area. Remember too that any burning fire will be consuming a fuel, be it wood or chemical, that will put carcinogens into the air.  A no-no for our pets! A recent convenience in our homes is under-floor heating. Nice for us, but our dogs aren’t designed for constant contact with a heated surface. The foot pads can actually become raw and irritated. So give your dog a choice to be, or not to be, in these areas.

De-Stress the Holidays

We love to celebrate with family and friends. Just remember that your dog loves routine and may get anxious when it’s changed. Does she like visitors? Is she used to excited children?  It should be a relaxing time for all, and dogs with cancer do not need any added stress. If you need extra help maintaining a calm home, some of the natural DAP (Dog Appeasing Phermone) products may help.

So Much Food, Food, Food

The recent post Holiday Foods and Dog Cancer described the main areas to avoid to keep your pet healthy.  A dog with cancer does not need special treats unless they are healthy and part of The Dog Cancer Diet . There’s controversy on both sides of feeding bones to any dog.  But if they have been cooked in a dry heat, like a roast, it’s a definite ‘no.’ Just don’t feed bones; don’t take the chance.

Short Days and Long Nights

If you live in an area with shorter days during the winter months, remember how important vitamin D from good sunlight can be for health. If nature doesn’t help you out, consider a quality Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lamp. Equally, long dark nights are wonderful for healthy, Melatonin-producing sleep.

Take it Easy:

The Dog Cancer Shop has some great options for comfy canine beds, outerwear, healthy lighting and calming aids. Plan ahead.  Let’s all enjoy the magic of a stress-free winter with best friend.

Happy Tails!


Leave a Comment

  1. Dwayne wright on April 2, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Hello Susan I read what you had to say about the winter and summer with dogs that have cancer mine has had cancer since 2017 and he’s actually still fighting it very well,I’m feeding a lot of raw meat and taking on short walks,, he is such a him he still has his playful side that he wants to play with his ball for a while and does very well but then other times he’s really out of it for example we just moved to another location and he really didn’t have to do any work at all but yet he feels rather ill and I have kept a very close eye on him during the whole move, is there something I can give him that would make him feel better seems like everything I give him like vitamins or mineral supplements anything like that makes him feel ill, and with your experience I really would like to know what I can give him to help him prolong his life he’s like my little boy, LOL I reached three daughters and he’s my only boy LOL thank you very much for your time Dwayne wright

  2. Robert E Perrone on November 30, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    thankyou my dog has cancer 13,7 yrs old chesie peake bay… had the leg removed in august but now his 1 back leg showing some weakness…i am taking him walks we do walk fast…. we delayed his2nd chemo treatment,, giving him turkey tail and lioness mushroom each day…. appetite is very good and energy…

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