Winter is coming! Stock up on supplies and bring out your fluffiest blankets because it’s going to take a whole lot more than cuddles to keep your dog warm in the freezing weather.
Do not bathe them as often
While it is necessary to bathe your dog in the winter, it can sometimes be a health hazard. If you’re used to bathing your dog two to three times a week, limit it to one. Remember to keep your wet dogs indoors until they’re completely dry. Dogs with thick coats may need a towel and blow dryer to help get rid of the excess moisture. Also, try to bathe them in the early morning so they have an entire day to dry off in preparation for their daily walks.
Let your dog’s hair grow out
Groom your dog as you normally would but avoid cutting or shaving their hair. A dog’s coat is their primary defense against the elements. Without it, or a lack of it, they wouldn’t be able to fend off the cold. Plus, a dog’s coat is the best it will ever be in the winter. As the years get colder, their coats thicken and get fluffier to prepare themselves for the winter. It’s like watching them magically turn into giant balls of fluff!
Avoid thin ice
The thought of your dog treating a pond like a giant slip and slide might sound adorable, but you need to remember that you don’t know how thick the ice has frozen. We hear stories too often of dogs who needed to be rescued from freezing water, particularly dogs of bigger breeds. Aside from the risk of falling into the icy waters of the pond, slipping on ice may lead to injury or muscular strains.
Feed your dog accordingly
Depending on how active your dogs are during the winter, you will need to either decrease or increase their food intake. Working dogs will need more calories to sustain themselves throughout the winter. A high-fat, high-protein diet should do them good. But if you intend to keep your dog indoors for most of the winter, reduce their caloric intake by 10%.
Note that it’s okay to let your furry friends get a little pudgy over the winter because they need the extra fat to stay warm — as long as they stay within the 4-6/9 BCS. However, dogs with a BCS of 6/9 or greater needs to be put on a diet by their veterinarian.
Trim foot fuzz
Dogs with long or curly fur sometimes form ice balls or crystals between their foot pads or toes. Trim their foot fuzz short to avoid their furry little paws from freezing.
Clean your dog’s feet
City streets are full of harsh chemicals and substances that are harmful for your dogs. The sidewalks may be safe for pedestrians, but not so much for your pups. The sodium and calcium chloride can damage your dog’s paws. After every walk, be sure to wash your dog’s feet. Also, some dogs will need a moisturizer if they’re prone to developing dry skin in the cold.
Limit your dog’s time outside
Not all dogs are capable of withstanding the cold. Short-haired dogs might get sick in the harsh weather —dogs too can suffer from frostbite, particularly on their ear flaps and tail tips. Northern breeds, however, can withstand extremely low temperatures.
Symptoms of frostbite on dogs include the skin becoming very pale with a bluish-white hue due to a lack of blood flow. Ice may also form around the affected area. When the area is touched, it feels very cold or brittle, and may be painful.
When the body part is warmed and blood flow returns, the skin becomes red and there is swelling accompanied by peeling. This is very painful and may lead to blisters or skin ulcers. As dog frostbite progresses, the area becomes blackened, which indicates death of the local tissue.
Consider your dog’s age
Older dogs lose fat over time and they have difficulty regulating their temperature, which is why they often rely on external sources of heat to keep them warm. You may notice that your golden gals and guys would prefer to sit next to the fireplace or snuggle up on the couch with you than willingly go outside to play in the snow.
Instead of keeping your dogs in the kennel, allow them to stay indoors. Even big dogs with long coats need to acclimatize to the cold weather. It would be nice to curl up by the fireplace and cuddle with your dogs as the snow falls.
If under certain circumstances you can’t keep your dog inside the house, build them a warm kennel. Their doghouse should be fully equipped with insulation, a warm bed, proper drainage, and a rain/snow proof roof.
Bundle your dog up
While this isn’t true for all dogs, short-haired ones still need the extra layer of warmth. Look for material that’s thick and hypo allergenic. The clothes shouldn’t be restrictive or uncomfortable. If you want to clothe your dogs in winter outfits, then you should consider investing in good quality sweaters, scarves, and boots. Buying cheap clothes isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there is the risk of things falling apart and depreciating over time.
Beware of antifreeze
Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning in animals. It typically happens when the chemical drips from the cars radiator and the dogs are let loose in the garage and start licking at it.
If you’re absolutely sure that your dog ingested antifreeze, try to induce vomiting. Give your dog a hydrogen peroxide solution one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight, with no more than three teaspoons given at once. However, this method is only effective if the antifreeze has been ingested in the past two hours.
Booties, Booties, and more Booties!
Have you ever noticed that sled dog teams wear booties during their races? This is because their handlers know that the race may be lost because of injuries and abrasions to the paws caused by running on the ice. Your dog may not be running through the frozen landscapes of the arctic, but their paws might still take a beating from trotting through the snow.
Balms and salves
As the seasons change, so does your dog’s skin. Springtime brings allergies and winter brings dry skin. Your dog’s paws and nose could dry out and they’ll need the balms to lock in the moisture and prevent their skin from cracking. Apply the balm on their footpads twice a day, once when your dog wakes up and once before your dog falls asleep. You can reapply if necessary, such as if they’ve been outside for extended periods at a time.
You can’t always give your dogs a bath during the winter. Once you reach subzero temperatures, drenching your dog in water is no longer an option. But the downside is that your dogs will start to smell, and oil will build up on their coats. You can use dry shampoo or powder cleansers to soak up the smells and oils sitting on your dogs. While this isn’t meant to replace baths entirely, it can supplement the second bath of the week to keep your dog fresh.
The theory behind weighted blankets is that they may work, in part, by providing firm, deep pressure stimulation. It may stimulate the release of neurotransmitters and affect nervous system activity in ways that decrease stress and anxiety. Some dogs are sensitive to loud sounds and rough winds. Giving them a weighted blanket could help your dogs with their anxiety because it gives them the semblance of being held by their owners. Buy a blanket that’s proportional to your dog’s weight, bigger dogs will need heavier blankets and smaller dogs need lighter ones.
Heated dog bed
A heated bed will keep your dog warm and toasty through the coldest of winters. They heat up at a low voltage to make them safe for your furry friends. Every dog should have a “safe space” in the winter. Somewhere they can turn to when it gets cold outside. Usually, it would be their crates. But crates aren’t the best insulators, so you can give them a dog bed instead. Older dogs in particular enjoy these beds more because of the fat loss they experience over time.
On nights when it’s exceptionally cold, you might have to set up space heaters around your house. While your dogs can benefit from them, remember to keep an eye on your dogs at all times. Yes, they have the ability to keep your dog’s warm but there’s also the risk of getting burnt. Your space heaters should be put in a place where the dogs can’t reach or touch them to avoid any accidents or risks.
High-visibility LED dog accessories
Taking your dogs for a walk is unavoidable. If you keep them in the house all day, bathroom accidents are bound to happen. And they’ll have way too much pent-up energy that needs to be expended. Dogs tend to get hyperactive in the winter because they’re cooped up inside all day. They still need exercise and their daily dose of fun every day.
To keep your dog safe and in sight at all times when you’re walking through the snow, make sure to let them wear LED Dog Collar, LED Dog Leash, or LED Dog Vest for optimal visibility, ensuring you and vehicles can see your fur friend at all times.
It’s important to keep your dogs warm during the winter, because like humans, their immunity is compromised during the cold weather and they tend to get sick easily. Take note that different dogs have different needs. Dogs that are bred for the cold don’t need nearly as much effort to stay warm as tropical dogs. But tropical dogs may need everything on this list. As long as you keep them happy and healthy, both you and your dogs can enjoy winter together without a hitch!