Cold-Weather Tips for Dogs
It is almost that time of year again: winter. Before you know it, the temperature will be dropping, and the snow will be falling. As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, it is important to remember that we’re not the only ones affected by the cold—our four-legged companions are as well. Just because your dog has a thick coat of fur does not mean they aren’t susceptible to the same dangers that we face in the wintertime.
The two most dangerous health risks during winter for dogs include frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite can happen to dog’s paws, ears, and tails when their body temperature is so low they start to pull blood from their extremities to the center of their body to stay warm. Hypothermia can happen if your dog spends too much time outside or gets wet in the cold. Look for shivering, lethargy, or weakness as a sign of hypothermia in dogs.
Here are five simple tips to help keep your dog happy, healthy, and safe this winter season:
Know Their Limits
Even though almost all dogs have some sort of fur coat, not all fur coats are made the same. Certain breeds like Huskies are made for the cold weather and do exceptionally well during the winter months. However, other dogs that are smaller or have shorter coats are more prone to getting cold. A warm dog sweater or jacket can help with this. Look for ones that cover your dog from neck to tail and surround their belly for the coldest weather protection. Even if your dog has a thick coat that has been known to withstand winter weather, as dogs get older it can be harder to regulate body temperature and a jacket can help with this too.
Keep Their Paws Clean
Dogs don’t have the luxury of walking through snow, sleet, and ice with waterproof leather boots, and their paws are notorious for being touchy in the cold weather. It’s important to keep your dog’s paws clear of any ice and salt buildup during the winter, especially if they have longer hair around their paws. Longer hair tends to cause ice clumps that are not only cold but awkward for dogs in the wintertime. Try to wipe your dog’s paws in the cold weather from time to time and check on any buildup. Dog shoes are also a good option for colder weather, but dogs may take some time to adjust if they’re new to them.
Leashes are Important
Keeping your dog in close proximity to you during the wintertime is important. Obstacles like ice, sharp rocks, frozen ponds, and pointy sticks that dogs cannot see can be buried under the snow. Plus, it is harder for dogs to understand where they are in the middle of winter if common location markers are covered in snow or scents are harder to pick up on in the cold weather. Getting lost in the middle of winter is more common for dogs so keep them safe and within your view or on a leash this winter.
Be Careful with Your Car
Your car can be dangerous for dogs in the wintertime as more antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid is used. Antifreeze is particularly sweet, and dogs are attracted to it if they find it on the ground. Be careful not to leave any spill unattended because they can be very poisonous to animals if they ingest it. It is also important to make some noise before starting your vehicle in the wintertime to scare away any cats that might be hiding under your wheel wells or within your engine bay.
Adjust Their Winter Diet
Dogs typically need to eat less in the winter months as they might not be getting as much activity and exercise as the summer months. Be sure to monitor your dog’s weight and adjust their diets accordingly to ensure they maintain a healthy and safe weight. Food supplements can also be important in winter and can help with things like dry or flaky skin.
Sure, the winter months are a bit colder for everyone, but we can all stay healthy and safe this season, including our dogs. What is your favorite winter activity to do with your dog? Let us know on Facebook; we love hearing from our fellow dog owners!
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