As the weather gets colder, your dog’s needs also change with the seasons. Dogs are vulnerable to cold, dry weather just like humans, so they need to be taken care of properly. Here are eight ways to keep your dog healthy and happy during colder weather:
Pet proof your house.
Pet-proofing your house also means finding proper storage for their irresistible dog food to keep them from reaching it. Most of dog foods come in plastic packaging that may not be enough to keep your pup’s curious little nose away, along with other hungry insects.
In the winter months, your dog will likely be spending more time inside, which is why it’s doubly important to ensure that there are no hazards that could be dangerous to them. Move chemicals, medications, and other hazardous substances out of your dog’s reach.
Do the same for human foods that can be dangerous for them, such as onions and chocolate. Examine your furnace and space heaters to ensure that they are working properly, and keep your dog from getting too close to them. Also, test your carbon monoxide detectors to confirm that they are working properly.
Feed Them Enough — But Not Too Much.
Some dog owners feed their dogs extra food in the winter, thinking that extra pounds will keep them warm. However, the health drawbacks of the extra weight outweigh the benefits of the extra insulation, so it’s better to keep your dog in a healthy weight range year round.
That being said, outdoor dogs usually do need a food increase to stay warm in cold weather. Talk to your vet about their caloric needs. Supplements such as collagen chews for dogs can also support coat and joint health. Check that your dog always has access to clean water and that it hasn’t frozen over so they can stay hydrated.
Minimize Your Time Outside.
If it’s too cold for you to be outside comfortably, then it’s too cold for your dog to be outside as well. You should limit your time outside during cold spells, and bring your dog inside promptly after your bathroom stop or short walk.
If you rely on outdoor activities to tire out your dog, you might need to find some indoor substitutes if you live somewhere that gets pretty cold.
If you must leave your pet outside for a period of time, make sure that your dog has a warm, dry shelter that is protected from the elements, such as a well-insulated dog house with a door.
Get Your Dog Some Winter Gear.
Many different types of dogs can benefit from wearing a coat while outside, including small dogs, elderly dogs, puppies, dogs with short coats, and dogs with health conditions that make it difficult to regulate their body temperature.
Make sure that the coat covers their back and belly from chest to tail, and it should have a high collar to protect their neck as well. Never put a wet coat on your dog, as this will make them colder. Always check that their jacket is dry before getting them dressed.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of winter precipitation, then getting them winter booties will help protect your dog’s feet from ice and snow. The boots should fit properly to prevent chafing and tripping.
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Wipe Them Down.
Unless it’s completely dry, you’ll need to wipe your dog down every time you come inside after a walk or potty break outside. Remove any winter weather gear your dog is wearing and then towel dry their coat gently to remove any moisture and chemicals they may have picked up while outside.
Check their paws for ice and snow accumulation and remove anything that may have become impacted between their toes. You should also check their paws for signs of injury, such as cracks or bleeding, and treat them appropriately. Dog’s paws can dry out during the harsh winter weather, which makes them more prone to injury.
Don’t Leave Them In The Car.
You know not to leave your dog in the car on a summer day because the car heats up so quickly. This same logic applies in the winter.
Cars also lose heat quickly, and your vehicle can turn into a refrigerator fast, causing your dog’s body temperature to drop and potentially endangering their life.
Try to limit the length of your car rides together in the winter, and make sure that you run the heat in the back if necessary to keep them warm. Never leave your dog unattended in a car during the winter, either.
Create A Cozy Den For Them.
You probably love falling asleep in a cozy bed during the winter, and your dog is the same. Make sure that they have at least one spot, such as a bed or crate, that is located away from drafts and raised off the cold floor so they can be warm while they sleep.
If you have room in your home or apartment, you might want to create several different dens for your dog so they can choose which one they want to sleep in based on how much warmth they need. That way, they can simply choose a different spot if they get too cold or hot.
Groom Them Less Often.
Dogs grow their coats out in winter to protect against the cold, so don’t undo all that by shaving down their fur. If they have a really long coat that gets ratty quickly, then just trim the ends to keep it tamed. You should also trim the fur on their paws to keep it from catching on things.
You should also consider reducing the number of times that you wash your dog. Washing strips their coats of necessary oils and can lead to dry, flaky skin. If your dog gets stinky fast, ask your vet for recommendations for moisturizing pet shampoos.
Follow these tips to keep your dog healthy and happy during the cold winter months. And as always, don’t forget to give them the occasional healthy dog treat!