Tysons, VA

The winter holiday season is approaching, and while the usual fun festivities will likely be altered to protect humans during the COVID-19 pandemic, dog owners should also be aware of hazards that may threaten their furry friends as the temperature drops and house decor increases. 

Luckily for Falls Church residents, the local Dogtopia has seen major success since its opening at the end of the summer. The store sold higher than average pre-sales, hitting about 25% above the company’s threshold to determine success, according to Dogtopia Falls Church owner Jim Hannesschlager. 

“We’re really, really excited and a little bit bullish on the potential here for this location, but also the brand in Northern Virginia,” Hannesschlager said. The store is one of two new businesses that have opened in Falls Church since the pandemic. 

Hannesschlegar explained that, during the cold winter months, dogs are especially in need of extra exercise and socialization to compensate for the extra food at Thanksgiving dinner, weather that inspires a slower pace of life, and the general feelings of excitement from the holidays. 

“It heightens our senses,” Hannesschlegar said. “When a dog has heightened senses…just like a human, those heightened senses and that potential anxiety and energy needs to be let out.” 

Luckily, socialization and exercise are two top services that Dogtopia provides to dogs, with education close behind. The dog daycare provider has resources for dogs who need a space for open play during the cold seasons.

When taking dogs on walks outside in the cold weather, however, owners should be cognizant of their dogs’ fur, Hannesschlegar says. Dogs with thicker hides like huskies should be fine to go on cold-weather walks, while dogs with thinner hides, such as greyhounds, may need a coat to wear. 

Hannesschlegar also advised buying dog-friendly snow-melting agents for driveways and sidewalks once it starts snowing.

“First thing a dog does, just like a baby, anything that’s weird, new, or painful goes right into their mouth,” Hannesschlegar said. 

When it comes to hazards around the house, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends keeping wires and ornaments out of reach, making sure candles are never left unattended, and avoiding mistletoe and holly as well as noisy toys such as poppers. Even creating a quiet room or space for pets can ease their anxiety in high-energy settings.

Photo via Jim Kalligas/Unsplash

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