Winter Tips for Your Frenchie
If you walk before sunrise or after sunset, carry a flashlight and wear clothes with reflecting qualities. There are devices that flash like bicycle warning lights for dogs' collars or you can put them on their leash. Be visible.
For Frenchies in cold climates:
Invest in a good quality coat for your Frenchie. Frenchies don't have much undercoat to keep them warm and some literally don't have the sense to come in out of the cold, so it's your job to protect them.
Don't allow your dog to stay outside very long. No unaccompanied time in the yard. If it's too cold for you to stand outside without a coat, it's too cold for your Frenchie to be out there--even with a coat on. Of course, it goes without saying that Frenchies are not outside dogs in even balmy weather.
The colder the weather, the shorter the walk should be.
Frenchies' ears are very susceptible to frostbite. Yes, your dog will look a little silly, but if it is under 30 degrees and there is a breeze then that doggy needs a hat.
If your area salts the roads and sidewalks, be sure to wash your dog's feet when you get home. A povidone-iodine wash is great--povidone is the generic for Betadine and it will clean your dog's feet as well as disinfect them in case he got any small cuts or scrapes on the ice. You can get it inexpensively at any drugstore. To use it, blend 1 part povidone-iodine to 10 parts water (or until it is about the color of iced tea.) Put some in a plastic container (a 16 oz cottage cheese tub works well) and soak your dog's foot for about 20 seconds. Wipe the foot carefully, dry it, and repeat with the other feet. If your dog will accept it, some people have their dogs stand in a dish pan or even a 9x13 cake pan. The kitchen sink works if you have a little Frenchie. An even faster way to rinse toxins off is to just put him in the tub and use the shower head on his feet. Be sure to dry between the toes. At the very least, a wipe with a warm, wet washcloth will help remove salt and other toxins from your dog's feet and legs. If you have a dog that will tolerate them, you can also use protective boots or rubber booties.
Moisturize! Your dog's skin, nose, and paws can get just as dry and cracked as your own skin. Invest in a good nose butter for your dog's nose if it looks crusty. Paws can be moistened with a little coconut oil, and ask your vet about a good moisturizing shampoo if your Frenchie's skin starts to flake. Some vets suggest adding a bit of coconut oil to a dog's meals, but make it a small amount to avoid gastrointestinal upset and weight gain.
Older Frenchies might really feel their aches and pains in colder weather. If your dog has had any back problems or suffers from arthritis or joint conditions, be especially careful to avoid icy stretches.
Even if your Frenchie is a snow lover, there is a limit to how much cold weather exercise even healthy young Frenchies can take. Keep an eye on your dog's breathing, and if they seem to be having a hard time, call it a day.
Florida Frenchie Owners:
Beware the Cane Toad!
Most Florida residents are well-aware of the invasive species of toad that can grow to nearly a foot in size and which spews a poisonous white fluid that can sicken people and pets alike.
The downpours this spring have resulted in larger than usual numbers of toads in multiple breeding cycles, the most recent just this week.
Some Floridians, particularly those near the Miami area, can barely walk in their yards without stepping on the toads or encountering them in near-misses.
If your Florida Frenchie has a strong prey drive – or can't resist taste-testing things they find in the yard - consider fitting them with a special basket-type muzzle meant for brachycephalic dogs. If your dog does encounter a cane toad and gets some of the toxin in his mouth, immediately and thoroughly rinse his mouth out and either call your vet or hie thee and your frogdog to the ER vet right away. Time is of the essence! Rinsing the toxin out of his mouth can buy you time to seek medical advice but might not be enough on its own to prevent illness -- or worse.
An Orlando Weekly article from March 22, citing the University of Florida, advises residents to humanely euthanize as many toads as possible. Dog owners would be wise to patrol their yards at least once a day wearing gloves and prepared to euthanize these invasive creatures. Another option is to call a trapper (https://public.myfwc.com/HGM/NWT/NWTSearch.aspx) . “If you see a cane toad, you're most definitely encouraged to destroy it. According to the University of Florida, the most humane way to euthanize a cane toad is to ‘rub or spray 20 percent benzocaine toothache gel or sunburn spray (not 5 percent lidocaine) on the toad's lower belly.’ This will apparently make it become unconscious, which at that point UF says to put it in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer for 24-48 hours. A cold peaceful death. Just be sure to wear gloves.”
Be careful to leave ordinary, harmless toads alone! The photo below will help you identify the differences—apart from enormous size—between the cane toad and the native southern toad, a friend that consumes lots of bugs and does not poison our pets or even cause warts. Here’s a photo from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to help you correctly identify the visitors you come across.
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