Each year, animal lovers all over the world worry about the dogs that are on the streets during the harsh winter months. The truth be told, many dogs actually die because they are not being properly taken care of during the winter. Most people that have dogs know that the best place for dogs to be during the winter months is indoors. Unfortunately, they are not all brought indoors. Some are left outside to sleep on the porch, under a deck, or if they are lucky maybe in a covered dog house. Often times, this is because pet owners don’t really know how the cold weather and snow can affect their dog.
Here are a few tips and some basic things you need to know about dogs, cold weather and snow.
12 Tips for the Cold Weather
When the weather starts getting colder, there are a few things that you can do to ensure the safety and health of your dog.1Keep your dog on a leash when you are out and about in the cold, snow and ice. Dogs depend a lot of their sense of smell to find their way around. If there is snow covering the ground, they may not be able to pick up on these important scents to help keep them from getting lost. If you let them get off of the leash, they may get lost. This is especially true during snow storms.
As an extra safety precaution, make sure that your dog has a collar and identification tags just in case he were to get loose. That way, he can be returned back to you if he gets away.2When you bring your dog in from being outside in the sleet or snow, make sure that you wipe down their legs and belly to keep them dry and warm. Otherwise, they may start to lick themselves to get clean.
Many chemicals are used to help get rid of ice and snow, including salt and antifreeze. These can be harmful if ingested by your dog. This is why you also need to make sure that you clean up any leaks or spills in your driveway all year round, not just during the winter months.3Let your dog keep a long coat during the winter months. If you do like to shave them, then it is best to do it during the summer months.
The longer coat during the cold winter months will actually help to keep them warmer. Just save the haircuts for the spring time when it starts to warm up. Trust us, your dog will appreciate that thick coat of fur when it starts getting colder.4When you give your dog a bath during the winter months, you will want to make sure that you dry them off completely before you take them outside for any reason. This will help to keep them from getting too cold.
You may want to start by towel drying them, and if they have really thick, long fur that takes a while to dry, it may be a good idea for you to use the blow dryer on them to ensure that you get them fully dry before going outside. Make sure that it isn’t even damp to the touch, because the slightest bit of moisture can freeze in extreme temperatures making them very uncomfortable.5If you have a short haired dog, it is a good idea for you to get them a sweater or a coat for going outside. It is best to look for a coat that is going to offer maximum coverage to keep them warm and toasty.
Look for a warm material that will keep their body heat inside. Some of the jackets and sweaters even have hoodies to help keep their heads warm. You can find stylish winter wear for your dog to ensure that he looks great and stays warm at the same time!6Consider letting your dog wear snow boots when you go outside. This will prevent them from getting any snow or ice in their paw pads, and will help them to hold in their warmth as well. If ice or snow gets in their paw pads, it can be very uncomfortable for them. They may even get skin irritations.
If you don’t have any snow boots for them, then you definitely need to make sure that you get all of the ice and snow off of their paws when you go back inside.7Puppies are even more sensitive to cold weather than adult dogs. This may make it harder to housebreak them. If your puppy is having a hard time going out in the cold to relieve himself, you may want to try to train him with papers or puppy pads until it warms up outside. The same is true for senior dogs or dogs with certain types of illnesses that are exacerbated with the cold weather.
Dogs with arthritis are especially sensitive to the colder weather. It makes their joints stiff and it may be harder for them to get around. Talk to your veterinarian about your options to help alleviate their pain and make the winter months more bearable for them.8Don’t leave your dog along in your car, because the car actually holds in the cold during the winter. It is much like it holds in the heat during the summer. They may freeze to death if you leave them for too long. If you are going somewhere, it may be best to leave them at home where it is warm and toasty.
While you may think that leaving dogs in the car is only dangerous during the hot summer months, it isn’t the case at all. It can be just as dangerous during the winter months if the temperatures get below freezing, and they do in a majority of areas.9If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the cold, then you will need to increase their food intake. Particularly, look for a food that is rich in protein. This is important, because they will need the extra food to help maintain their warmth.
Look for a well-balanced food that will offer them the right nutrients to ensure their health all year round. If you are worried about weight gain, talk to your veterinarian about a food that is designed for weight control, while still offering an adequate amount of protein.10Ensure that your pet has a warm place to lay his head at night. You should give him a place that is up off of the floor and away from drafts so that they can stay warm. You might even consider getting them a dog bed with a warm blanket to ensure they are warm. If your dog is an outdoor dog, then a heated dog house may be your best option if there is no way for you to let them inside at night.
There are several to choose from, offering warmth even when the temperatures are below freezing.
Even though it is best for you to keep your pup indoors during the winter months, there are some breeds that are designed to live outdoors. These breeds have what they call a double coat, and the thick undercoat will come in right before the temperature starts to get cold.
If you have a double coated breed that will be staying outside during the winter months, it is important to go ahead and put them out during the early fall. This gives them time to grow their warm undercoat, which is important to help keep them warm as the winter gets colder.12If your dog is going to be staying outside, you need to keep an eye on their water bowl. If it gets too cold, the water may freeze. They need regular water to drink, and ice will not cut it. If you can’t change out the dish often enough to prevent it from icing over, why not consider a heated pet dish to keep the water at the perfect temperature for your dog?
You may also keep their water inside of a heated dog house to keep it from freezing over.
As you can see, you definitely have to take extra precautions when it comes to your dogs in the cold weather.
Before it gets too cold, make sure that you do what you need to do to ensure your dog’s safety and health. Far too often, dogs are neglected during the winter and sadly some of them don’t make it through the season alive. Don’t let this be your dog. Use these tips to ensure your dog’s safety in the cold weather and snow.