It is hard to believe that winter weather is already here. It feels like we were just talking about summer safety tips for your dog. Just as cold weather brings challenges for us, it also brings unique challenges for our canine family members as well.
Winter care tips for your dog follows a lot of the same guidelines as hot weather in that if it is uncomfortable for you, it is probably not comfortable for your dog. Dogs can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia like us, and we need to protect them from the harsh elements that winter can dish out. For tips on frostbite and hypothermia in dogs, click here.
Winter Care Tip for Your Dog #1 – Never Leave your Dog in the Car
Never leave your dog in the car during cold weather for prolonged periods of time. Just as your car can become an oven in the summer, it can become a refrigerator in the winter and can quickly chill your dog. After all, you probably wouldn’t put your dog in the fridge! Also, keep in mind that dogs that are old, thin or sick may be unable to handle the cold temperatures and should never be left unattended in cold cars.
Winter Care Tip for Your Dog #2 – Bundle Up
If you find it necessary to bundle yourself up before you go outside, then you probably are going to need to do the same for your dog. There are some breeds such as Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies that can tolerate the cold better than others, but even they will need special care during cold weather.
Let your dog’s hair grow out during the colder months if you typically shave them down during the summer. Your dog may need a sweater or a jacket, and if they are going to be walking in the snow, a good pair of dog booties is a great idea to protect their paws.
Winter Care Tip for Your Dog #3 – Paw Care
Frequently, check your dog’s paws for signs of injury or damage due to the cold weather. Injuries may include cracked paw pads, or in severe cases, their pads may start to bleed. If your dog suddenly becomes lame or stops while on a walk, then check for ice accumulation between their toes and any signs of cracks or redness. Click Here for additional paw care tips.
Try applying some petroleum jelly or another paw protectant onto their pads before going outside to help protect from chemical agents, salt, and frostbite. Dog Booties are an excellent option for preserving those precious paws. Moreover, take shorter walks and try to walk during the warmest part of the day when the sun is shining.
Winter Care Tip for Your Dog #4 – Avoid Toxins
Antifreeze is poisonous to dogs and can be lethal if ingested. Be sure to wipe up any spills from your vehicle and keep the container tightly closed and out of the reach of your canine companions. Always wipe your dog's feet when coming in from outside as they may have walked on ice melt which may contain toxic chemicals. If your dog licks their paws after walking on deicer, they may become sick.
Winter Care Tip for Your Dog #5 – Provide a Warm Place to Sleep
If your dog is an indoor pet, his or her bed or crate should be in a warm area that is free from drafts and preferably elevated off the floor. Cold tiles and concrete floors can be extremely cold and may cause your older dog to become stiff from aging joints. Choose the right bedding such as a snug blanket to ensure your dog stays warm.
If your dog must stay outdoors, then you need to provide a warm insulated pet house or shelter. The dog house should have a door to keep the cold air out and be slightly elevated to prevent moisture from accumulating inside and be sure to change out the bedding frequently as it may become wet.
Winter Care Tip for Your Dog #6 – Regulate Food Amounts
Some dog owners have a misconception that by feeding their dog more in the winter, they will develop an extra layer of fat that will help keep them warm. The excess weight is not beneficial. It is best to keep an eye on your dog’s body conditioning and keep them in a healthy range.
Although it is true that staying warm requires extra calories and outdoor dogs will need more calories to generate enough energy and body heat to keep warm, dogs that stay indoors should remain on a nutritious, balanced diet that should include the 100% all-natural snacks from the South Fork Pet Company.
Dogs tend to be less active in the winter, so adjust meals and calories accordingly. Always make sure your dog has fresh water available. If your dog is outdoors, then be sure to frequently check the water bowl to ensure that the water is not frozen.
Keeping your Dog Safe and Healthy This Winter
Remember that when it comes to winter care tips for your dog that just like us, your dogs’ ability to tolerate the cold will vary depending on several factors. These variables may include the type of coat, activity level, overall health, and body fat stores.
Dogs that are older or that suffer from arthritis may find it difficult to walk on snow and ice and may be more prone to falling and sustaining an injury. Dogs with long hair or thick coats may be more tolerant of the cold but are still at risk in cold weather.
Dogs that have short hair will feel cold faster than their long-haired counterparts because they have less protection from the elements. Moreover, dogs with short legs will also become cold more quickly because their bellies are more likely to come in contact with the frozen ground.
Dogs with illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease may find it more difficult to regulate their body temperatures and therefore, may be more susceptible to problems associated with frigid temperatures.
Winter can be fun for dogs as they frolic in the snow and run around on a cold day, so take some precautions and enjoy!