Winter is coming, and there’s lots of things to get ready, including your dog! When the temperature starts plummeting and the snow flakes threaten to fall, you know you need to hunker down and get ready for a cold snap. But as you’re pulling out your best woolen mittens, your winter coat, and your boots, don’t forget that Fido needs to be winterized too. Those long walks in the snow take a toll on a pup’s paws, and the thought of a winter jacket when the thermometer starts taking a nosedive is a most welcome one for your favorite canine pal!
Winter Threats to Your Pet
Most dogs are of the no nonsense variety. They prefer not being gussied up with cute coats and winter boots. But if you plan to take your dog on any outdoor winter adventures, these items lose their novelty cachet and become necessities. Frosty weather puts our dogs at risk for serious illness and disease, and the best course of action is to be prepared.
Here are some of the problems that could befall your pet in winter:
Dogs can succumb to frostbite just as easily as humans can. They are potentially at even greater risk since certain sensitive areas of their bodies are directly exposed to the elements such as delicate paw pads, ear tips, and even noses.
As animals lose body heat and their internal temperature begins to lower, they can enter a process called hypothermia. If not treated in its earliest phase, it can quickly progress to a life threatening condition. Young pets, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk of developing this condition after prolonged exposure to the cold.
- Salt burns
Salt is commonly used to reduce ice buildup on sidewalks and driveways. Unfortunately, the same material used to prevent ice also has a caustic effect on your dog’s paw pads, often leaving them cracked and raw.
Getting Your Dog Ready for Winter
Purchase a dog coat.
To ensure your favorite pooch doesn’t succumb to the chill, it’s important to buy him a dog coat. When selecting the right jacket for your dog, it is always best to have him with you as sizes vary, and it can be quite difficult to determine which coat will actually fit your favorite furry friend.
It is always better to err on the side of too large than too small. Always bear in mind that your dog will be in motion most of the time he is wearing his jacket, so be sure that he has full range of motion when he has his coat on.
Most dogs do not like wearing coats, but it is important that you not give in to the temptation to take it off when he sulks. The coat is to keep him safe and protected from the harsh elements of winter.
- Get out the dog boots.
Like with dog coats, most dogs do not like wearing boots. However, this one precaution can save the agony of cracked and sore paw pads.
- Let your dog’s coat grow in.
While regular grooming is still necessary for most breeds, winter is not the time for a clip down to the skin. Allow your dog to keep as much coat as is possible but take care to brush it daily to keep it in good condition.
- Keep baths to a minimum.
Frequent bathing strips the skin of oils which help to keep the skin moisturized. The loss of these naturally occurring oils leaves the skin vulnerable and more prone to cracking and bleeding. Limit baths to an as needed basis during winter if at all possible.
- Stockpile toys in case outdoor play is not possible.
Let’s face it; sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t play nice, and it’s impossible to get your dog out for the exercise that he needs. However, he still needs his daily exercise! Never fear; your dog can still get the physical and mental stimulation that he requires indoors. Scour pet and department stores on the lookout for items that will engage a dog’s brain and jaws when the weather is uncooperative. You want to purchase toys in different sizes, shapes, textures, and colors to maximize interest.
- Get out the dog boots.
Be sure to put away some of your treasures for a “rainy day.” This will help keep brand new items exciting for your dog!
Also be sure to include some puzzle games. These help your dog to make use of his brain; something that is very important to his mental and physical well-being.
- Designated an area to keep clear for pottying.
If your dog cannot access his potty area, he will unfortunately begin to have accidents in your home. This can happen in even the most solidly trained pets. It is important that you select an area for pottying and keep it clear of snow and other debris by shovelling the area as often as is necessary.
- Consider dog day care for exercise.
If you’ve had a few too many snowy days in a row for Fido’s liking and you just can’t get a good walk in, you might want to consider sending him out to doggy day care. A vigorous play date with some of his best canine pals will help him to shake off the winter blues.
Having an action plan to address winter is an important part of every dog owner’s winter preparation strategy. Head out to your local pet store to get ready for winter today!