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Winter conditions can sometimes be rough and just like human beings, dogs get cold, too. It doesn’t matter if they have a lot of fur or if they’re big and strong – dogs also need and deserve protection from cold weather.
Here are 14 ways to keep your dog safe and warm during the winter:
1. Keep your dog warm and toasty. Cold weather can cause itchy, flaky skin – so the warmer your dog is, the less discomfort they will feel. As soon as they come in the house, towel them off and remove any snow from their body and between their foot pads. Keep them cozy in warm bed and away from all drafts.
2. Bring your outdoor dog inside. We are sure you’ve heard If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet, but, for real, it is. Don’t leave them outside; it’s cruel and inhumane and they deserve to be inside where it’s warm. If you can’t bring your dog inside, provide them with a warm, solid shelter against the wind and unlimited access to fresh water.
3. Don't leave them in the car. Did you know leaving your pet in the car - even for a few minutes when it’s cold outside - can be super harmful to your dog? Cold cars become like refrigerators and can quickly chill your pet so if you’re running errands on a frosty day, leave your dog at home.
4. Buy them a coat. If they are small, short-haired, short-legged, elderly, or sick dog, they need a coat to help combat the winter extremities. If they are long-haired, don’t shave them; let their long, fluffy coat keep them warm, but keep it clean and trim to minimize lingering snow and ice on the fur. Fortunately, there are so many brands and styles of dog coats that you’ll be sure to find something that not only protects your pup but also makes them look and feel good.
5. Buy them boots. When dog paws are exposed to the winter elements, they’re at risk for cracking, drying, and frostbite. What’s more, toxic chemicals like ethylene glycol found in antifreeze, coolants, and road salts are poisonous so if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, be sure to check between your dog’s foot pads to make sure doesn’t track it into the house or ingest it. Like coats, there are so many different brands, colors, sizes, and styles of dog boots that you’ll easily find the perfect pair (with or without the fur). Check out our recommended boots
6. Let them be stinky. Washing your dog too often can remove essential oils and increase her chances of developing dry, flaky skin. If they smell terrible and must be bathed, you can use a shampoo or conditioner that will be good for their skin.
7. Inspect your furnaces and heaters. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, and since it can cause serious health problems to both people and animals, have your heating unit checked for any possible leaks or malfunctions. The Huffington Post also suggests keeping an eye on fireplaces, space heaters, and any other hot surface that your dog may snuggle up to for warmth. They can be burned if they get too close, electrocuted if he chews through its cord, or start a fire if he knocks it over, placing himself, your entire family, and house in danger.
8. Keep them on a leash. While you never want your dog to get loose or run away, you especially don’t want to lose them when it’s cold outside; they can lose their scent or blend in with the snow if she’s light-colored. To take extra precautions, make sure their ID tag is current and secure on her collar. You can check out the perfect ID tag here.
9. Keep them away from water. If you live near a pond, lake, or another body of water that freezes during the winter, be careful while walking them or letting them off their leash. Like people, animals can easily fall through the ice, and it’s very difficult for them to escape or be rescued.
10. Monitor their food intake. Indoor dogs are like people and bears during the winter: they hibernate, exercise less, and count the days until it’s spring. And since they sleep more and exercise less, they burn fewer calories You don’t want them to gain weight so watch their food and snack intake. While indoor dogs need less food in the winter, outdoor dogs need more because it takes more energy to stay warm when it’s cold. Feeding your outdoor animal more and keeping their water bowl full can help provide much-needed calories and keep them well-hydrated throughout the winter.
11. Watch out for hypothermia and frostbite. When it’s cold, dogs are more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, but familiarity with them can help keep your pet safe. Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition that can result from extended exposure to cold while frostbite is a temperature related tissue injury that most commonly occurs on ears, tails, scrotum or feet. If your dog is showing signs of shivering, shallow breathing, weak pulse or lethargy, she may be suffering from hypothermia; if she’s showing signs of discolored skin (red, pale, or grayish) swelling, or blisters, she may have frostbite. If you suspect your dog has either of these temperature related illnesses, immediately take her to a warm, dry place and contact your vet.
12. Limit your walks. Less outdoors, the less likely they will get hypothermia or frostbite or ingest antifreeze. And don’t let your dog eat snow, white or yellow; snow causes upset stomachs if ingested and can be covering hidden objects like the frozen bunnies that my dog found that broke my heart.
13. Be prepared. With Winter Storm Jonas, grocery store shelves were emptied of water, milk, bread, eggs, and lamb (yes, apparently lamb is a thing that people crave during blizzards), but we wonder how many shelves were emptied of dog food? Make your dog part of your disaster plan and ensure that they have, too, enough food, water, and medicine to last if you’re snowed in for a while.
14. Be an animal advocate. If you see a pet outside in the cold, politely let their owner know you’re concerned and see if you can help.
Having a dog during the winter can be great, but in order to make the most of the season and have fun in the snow together, it’s important to keep your dog safe, warm, and protected. When you do, you’ll happily and confidently be able to build snowmen, make snow angels, and taunt him with hot chocolate he can’t have.