Snow is on the ground, winter’s come, the season to cuddle is here!
Snow, sleet, ice, wind… we have to deal with a lot in winter. If it’s too cold for us, it’s too cold for our dogs too. So, it’s important to adjust the daily routine of your pooch to keep him happy, safe and comfortable throughout the winters.
Even if your dog has a thick coat, he might still feel chilly in the winter.
Many people have this misconception that because their dog has a coat of fur, they can tolerate better than humans. This isn’t true. The cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on humans.
No matter what you think about the winters, one thing is certain: you need to give a little extra care and attention to your beloved fur pal.
There can be many cold weather conditions that you need to take care of for your dog. The two of them are Frostbite and Hypothermia. These two are the serious cold weather conditions.
Frostbite begins when the dog’s body gets cold. The body automatically pulls blood from the extremities to the center of the body to stay warm. The dog’s ears, paws or tails can get so cold that ice crystals can form in the tissue and damage it. Watch for signs of grey or pale skin, the skin may also turn hard and cold.
Hypothermia occurs when a dog spends too much time in the cold or gets wet in cold weather. In mild cases, the dog will shiver and his ears and feet may grow cold. Severe hypothermia is life-threatening.
So, it’s important to protect your four-legged friend from these conditions in winter. Caring for your dog in the winter is a multi-pronged effort that will require some thought and preparation. Here are a few simple tips on taking care of your best friend throughout the winter.
Go For Walks When The Sun is Out
If your dog feels cold, go for walks in the late morning or in the afternoon when the sun is shining, when temperatures are a little warmer. Spend time playing games outdoors when the sun is shining, it will also benefit by providing both you and your fur pal with vitamin D.
Limit Outdoor Time
Keep your dog inside as much as possible. We all know how much dogs love going out, but in winters, they can suffer from frostbite, especially on the delicate ear flaps and on the tail tips.
It is a good idea to keep your dog inside as much as possible.
Take your dog frequently for walks, exercise, and play but when the temperature drops, don’t leave him outdoors for a long period of time. Even a tough arctic sled dog is not meant to spend huge amounts of time outside in the winter. A thick coat doesn’t protect all body parts.
Also, stay away from frozen lakes and ponds. It’s impossible to tell how secure the surface is.
Dress Your Dog Warmly
Some dogs are blessed with thick fur coats to deal with some amount of cold. This thick fur keeps them warm naturally, even in cold temperatures. But dogs with thin coats may need to wear a sweater or coat when out for winter walks.
It may be cozy indoors, but your dog needs regular walks regardless of the weather. When out on walks, it’s important to make sure that your four-legged friend is wrapped up well.
I’m sure, you would never go out in blistering cold wearing just a t-shirt and lower with your flip flops on. You’ll freeze because of the weather and might also face some health issues because of the weather. The same happens with dogs, if not protected well from the cold weather, they can catch a fever, hypothermia or some other cold weather condition.
So, it’s important for your fur pal to wear a sweater or a good coat. The coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail, and should also protect the belly.
And even with a cozy coat, don’t keep your dog out for too long, especially if you have a fine-coated dog.
Take Care of Dog’s Paws
Protecting your dog’s paw by wiping them down is important. Check your dog’s paws and dry them thoroughly after he’s been outside. This is especially important for long-haired dogs as they are prone to snow compacting between their toes and turning into ice balls which can be very painful.
You can also trim the hair that grows between her pads to prevent ice build-up between the pads.
Just like we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads.
Ice, snow, salt and toxic chemicals like antifreeze and deicers can build up on your dog’s feet. If he licks his feet, he can swallow the poison. Antifreeze, in particularly, tastes sweet but can be deadly.
So, make sure to clean your dog’s paws thoroughly.
Also, a dog’s legs, tail, and ears are most susceptible to frostbite. While there’s not much you can do about the tail and ears besides keeping the walks short or walking during the daylight hours, dog boots will some welcome warmth to your dog’s feet. Dog booties can also protect your dog from harmful chemicals.
Save Your Dog From Heat Sources
Keep an eye out for winter dangers in your house. Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heat sources.
Dogs can burn themselves or even tip over and stat fire.
Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pal getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat so please make sure you have a pet-proof system to keep your heat-seeking fur friend out of harm’s way.
Your four-legged friend doesn’t know how those heat sources work and he can burn his skin or injure himself by these heat sources. So, keep an eye on his activities.
Control The Amount of Food
The extra layer is helpful in winter, but it should come from a coat and not a layer of fat. The cold weather even brings on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories.
You will not want your dog to become a panda, especially when he’s doing physical work, cause he can’t go outside that much.
Keep an account of his activity level and feed him accordingly. A high quality, whole food, preferably raw meat-based diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.
If you find that your dog is less active in the winter months, make sure you adjust the amount of food you give them accordingly to avoid weight gain.
You can try and feed your dog in fun and creative ways, that will both satisfy his hunger and give him a bit of a workout. Doggos are food-motivated, so you can encourage activity by spreading meals throughout different parts of the house.
Grooming is Important
The cold weather can increase the chances of skin and health problems for your dog such as dry, flaky skin, dandruff, bad odor, infections, and fever.
Add a skin and coat supplement to the diet of your dog.
Use coconut oil and fish oils as moisturizers. It can keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. If you find your dog’s tail, paws and ears are dry and cracking, you can also apply coconut oil topically as needed.
No Matter What, NEVER Leave Your Dog Unattended in The Car
We all know how dangerously hot the cars can get in summers, just like that freezing cold temperatures are dangerous for your dog in winter.
Always take your dog along with you rather than leaving them in the car for any length of time.
If you have a senior dog with arthritis or diabetes, cold weather may agitate their already achy joints. You can tone down your exercise regimen with your dog accordingly in the winters.