Winter is definitely upon us, as evidenced by the dry skin and chapped lips, not to mention hair standing on end from static electricity, plaguing pretty much everyone not residing in Miami or Phoenix. It can be fun and invigorating to head out to explore your winter wonderland with your dog, but as you zip your parka and wrap your scarf, don’t forget that your best friend may also need a little extra care to stay comfortable in the cold.
Keep Your Dog Inside if Possible
Winter is not a time to leave your dog outside if you don’t have to. Keeping him inside means it is easier for you to see to his needs, and most dogs prefer to be inside with you, anyway.
Dress Him for the Season
It’s easy to forget that dogs, who wear their fur coats all of the time, might like a little extra protection when the mercury drops. Indoor dogs, regardless of whether their fur is long or short, thick or flat, become acclimated to indoor temperatures. To keep him comfortable during winter walks, think about investing in some fashionable outerwear for him. You may be hesitant to put clothes on your dog if you’ve never done it before, but it’s really not that hard to get them used to it. Before long, your dog will see you pick up his coat and know that means it’s time for a walk. He might even start bringing it to you.
If you think your dog’s toes don’t get cold, feel of them next time he comes inside after a romp in the snow. A set of boots can make walks and playtime so much more enjoyable in the frigid cold. Also, dogs being walked on streets or sidewalks especially need protection if salt or other de-icing compounds are used. These chemicals can cause burns to the pads, and can make your dog ill if he licks them from his paws after walks.
Monitor His Weight
Dogs spend more energy staying warm in cold temperatures and may need extra calories to compensate. On the other hand, if your dog isn’t getting as much exercise as he typically does during warmer times of the year, you may actually need to cut back on the amount that you are feeding him. Watch his weight carefully to ensure that his diet is meeting his needs.
Special Care for Outdoor Dogs
If your dog spends most or all of his time outdoors, he will get used to the cold temperatures to a point, but a little extra attention on your part is required to keep him cozy. While we don’t necessarily agree that any dogs should be “outside dogs” the reality is that many people keep their dogs outside. Make sure your outdoor dog has a dry place to curl up that is out of the wind. Blankets, straw or other clean bedding are a must.
Your dog needs to be able to drink actual liquid water, even in winter. Don’t make him eat snow or lick ice to get his drinks. There are several heated water bowls and other inexpensive devices on the market created specifically to help your dog stay hydrated. Invest in one of these items for your outdoor dog.
Winter is a wonderful time of year for breathing in the cold, crisp air and losing all of the tennis balls beneath the snow. Enjoy the season even more knowing your dog is loving it, too.