Winter time is a fun period of the year for many people, and dogs are no different. While some dogs would rather do without the cold at all, others love nothing more than running outside to romp around in the snow. Whether your pooch is born to dig in the drifts, or needs strong convincing to even go outside to go to the bathroom, it’s important to make sure that you are taking proper care of them during the cold months. It’s all too easy to neglect simple but effective ways of making your dog’s winter safer, and it can lead to your dog getting sick or worse.
A Fur Coat Doesn’t Have to Be Their Only Coat
Every dog has a coat of fur which helps to regulate their temperature, but often that is not enough in the winter. Many breeds originated in areas which did not feature enduring cold spells, which means many dogs have coats which are simply not able to keep up with the temperatures of their new climates. Although allowing your dog’s coat to grow out if you normally groom them can help, If you own a dog that wasn’t specifically bred to love the snow, they should likely be wearing a dog coat or puppy sweater when you take them out in winter, as well. The extra clothing helps to keep their temperatures and spirits up when the temperature is down.
A Little Time Outdoors Goes a Long Way
Even though it’s cold out, it’s still important that your dog gets exercise throughout the winter to help them stay in the best possible shape. If you don’t have room to run and play indoors, that means that some outdoor running is an essential part of keeping your pup happy and healthy. When it’s cold out, however, it’s important to make sure that you keep these outdoor play times to lengths which your dog is able to handle. Consider breaking your usual play time up into several smaller sessions, spaced out over the day, if possible. This allows your dog to get the same exercise, but with shorter bursts so they can go inside and warm up when things get just a bit too chilly.
A Cozy Bed is a Dog’s Best Friend
Just because you take your dog inside doesn’t mean they’re totally free of winter’s chill. Your dog will need time to warm back up after playing outdoors, but you can make the process easier by providing them with a nice warm doggy blanket. Another problem some dog owners overlook is how cold floors can get during the winter, particularly basement or first floor rooms which do not have rugs or carpets. If your dog spends time in a room like that, make sure that you have a comfortable doggy bed for them. This gives your pup a comfortable, and more importantly warm, spot to curl up and have a nap without feeling the cold floor.
A Shoveled Yard Means a Happy Dog
When the snow comes down, you know you have to shovel your driveway if you intend to drive your car anywhere, but we don’t always think about what our dogs would like shoveled, too. If you have a smaller dog, or the snow is particularly high, you can easily end up in a situation where your dog is uncomfortable when trying to go to the bathroom. If there’s enough snow for them to be touching down in it when the time comes to squat, it can lead to hesitance or even refusal to go to the bathroom. Shoveling out a portion of your yard makes walks quicker and more comfortable for your dog.
Snow can also cover up dangerous holes or hills in your yard. If you know there are uneven portions of your yard, or small holes from animals, avoid walking your dog in these areas. The snow can obscure your dog's ability to identify the dangers, but when they step on them they go through the snow and can be injured.
Embrace the Daylight
When every degree counts, the added warmth of a sunny day is highly useful. Whenever possible, give your dog as much of their outdoor time as you can during hours where the sun is up. Try to wait for dawn before your dog’s morning walk if possible, and be sure to get a walk in before sundown to minimize the amount of nighttime walks outside in the cold.
You Wouldn’t Walk in the Snow Barefoot
Even shaggy dogs have pads on their paws which are directly exposed to the cold ground when winter rolls around. Picking up a warm pair of doggy shoes helps to keep your pup’s feet warm and toasty and reduces the risk of exposure-related injuries to your dog’s paws. Winter also brings with it many chemicals which are used to make roads and walkways safer which can be harmful to dogs when ingested. If your dog goes out without shoes on, it’s easy for those chemicals to get picked up by the dog’s fur, leading to the dog ingesting it later when it cleans itself.
Watch Your Dog After They Go Out
Although most concerns during the winter have to do with your dog getting too cold, you should also be wary of your dog getting too close to heaters in your home, as well, particularly when they have recently been outside. Sometimes, in an effort to warm up, a dog will get a little too close to a space heater or baseboard heating, and they can accidentally hurt themselves. If you have heating elements which get hot to the touch inaccessible areas, keep an eye on your dog around them during winter and teach them to stay back.
Even in Winter, Cars Can Be Dangerous
Just like you should never leave your dog alone in the car during the summer, for fear of overheating, you should know that cars can quickly lose their heat in winter. This means that if you have to run errands and decide to bring your pup along with you, but they aren’t welcome in the store, your car may get dangerously cold. Always bring your dog inside with you, or leave someone in the car with the dog and the car still running. This ensures temperatures stay safe and your dog stays healthy.
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