Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Winter
For many dog owners, being able to play with your pup in winter can be so much fun. Whether it's tearing down a snowman or playing fetch with snowballs, there are so many ways to have fun! These are some of the best memories you’ll make together. However, dogs (just like humans) need to be cautious about the colder climates. Dogs are just as susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite, and pneumonia as humans are. As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure we have a proper understanding of how to own a dog in cold weather. Here are a few tips to keep your dog safe during the winter.
When it comes to keeping your pup warm, having additional clothing is a great way to keep your dog warm in the winter. Our research shows that dogs lose much of their body heat through their ears, tails, paw pads, and breathing. We suggest that you purchase clothing items to help keep your pup warm. Dogs who have short fur can benefit from having clothing items such as jackets and sweaters. Another area of big concern for dogs in the winter are their feet. If you plan on taking dogs out into the snow we highly recommend using booties for your dog as snow can ball up forming ice in between their toes. (This causes cuts and skin to be rubbed raw). We also recommend you also have an option for a dog carrier you can use.
Who doesn’t love bundling up in a warm blanket on the couch with hot cocoa after playing outside in the snow. Dogs are no different. Having a bed or blanket that keeps them warm and cozy is a no brainer for the winter time. There are even options for heated dog beds or heated pads that can keep your pup’s bed extra cozy on cold winter nights.
In the winter months, it’s important to remember how much your dog relies on their fur for insulation against the cold. This of course doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t groom your dog at all but to not go overboard during this time. It’s also important to remember to keep your dog’s paws clean when they come back inside. They can easily pick up salt, ice, snow, and chemicals. One helpful tip we read on multiple grooming sites is to carefully trim excess hair off the feet. Long hair on dog’s feet causes them to pick up snow in and on around their feet which can cause cuts and raw skin. A lot of groomers also recommend using a foot balm on the pads of your dog's feet to keep them from developing major cracks and cuts in their pads.
Even the most trained and obedient dogs can sometimes take off without any warning. They might see another animal or get excited to explore this new climate. Your dog could get lost, get hurt, and it’s difficult to say what may be hidden under the snow. Keeping your dog on their leash is always a safe bet when being in cold environments. Leashes also tend to get very messy and dirty during the winter months. We recommend purchasing a waterproof leash for winter months as it won't leave a mess in your house.
Research has shown us that dogs that live an active outdoor lifestyle during the winter, need the nutrition to match that lifestyle. Some of these activities might include hiking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, etc. We recommend that you consult your vet on what kind of a diet would be appropriate for your dog.
Know the Warning Signs
Dogs are still susceptible to conditions like frostbite and hypothermia during the winter. There are few easy warning signs that dog owners should always be mindful of during these months. Should you notice any of the following, keep your dog inside and consult a vet.
-Sluggish demeanor after having been outside for a short amount time
-Paw pads, ears, or tails become more red and sensitive
Don’t Keep Your Dog Alone in the Car
Just as a boiling hot car in the summer can pose a threat to your dog, the same rule applies to dogs that are kept unattended inside a car during the winter time. Your car will turn into a refrigerator on wheels and can be very hazardous to your dog if left for long periods of time. Whenever possible, consider leaving your pup snuggled up at home when you need to run some errands. Even better, purchase a K9 Sport Sack and a Snuggler Jacket and bring them with you!
How Cold is Too Cold?
In a general sense, any temperatures you above 45°F should be fine for your dog of any breed to play outside. When the temperature drops below 32°F, you will need to consider limiting time outside and using protective clothing especially for Senior dogs, puppies, and short hair dogs in temperatures. Winter dog breeds like Huskies and Malamutes can handle frigid temperatures of up to -50°F.
We hope this gave you a few helpful tips for keeping your dog safe in the winter. We would love to hear any other helpful tips and tricks you have used to keep your dog safe in the winter!
Photo Creds: Gary Sandoz on Unsplash