5 Things To Keep In Mind As You Prepare Your Dog For Winter

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on December 23, 2017
Posted in Dogs

Dogs are just like your home and car in that they must be physically prepared for winter to avoid harm. This is because dogs need to go out multiple times a day, despite the various hazards that await them as soon as the temperature starts to drop. Fortunately, it’s very easy to keep your dog safe as long as you follow a few simple guidelines about the right clothes and behavioral tips.

Here are 5 things to remember as you winterize your dog:

1. Not All Dogs Need Coats

Dr. Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer at New York City’s Animal Medical Center, says most dogs do not need coats and are in fact better at adapting to the cold than higher temperatures.

“A dog’s circulatory system is actually quite good in regards to dealing with the cold,” he told the New York Times.

Those that do need coats are usually smaller breeds because hair is not as protective as fur. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside or have chronic conditions like diabetes or arthritis would benefit from coats as well, preferably one that covers the chest and abdomen.

2. Protect Their Feet

Balls of ice, salt and ice melt on roads and sidewalks are just a few ways a dog’s feet can be hurt on a short walk. You can protect your dog’s feet by applying wax to the paw pads before a walk or trying one of the many versions of dog boots available. Disposable boots are sold in multi-packs, and the more durable boots, often secured with Velcro straps, are predictably more expensive.

If your dog has trouble getting boots on or keeping them on, your vet might recommend plastic-bags or simply washing your dog’s paws in warm water when you get back from your walk.

3. Don’t Let Them Lick The Ground

The aforementioned ground-based hazard are significantly more dangerous if ingested by curious dogs that tend to lick the sidewalk. Even worse, some driveways or roadsides might be coated with antifreeze, which might attract dogs with its sweet taste. Make sure your dog steers clear of licking anything that isn’t obviously snow, as just one lick of yellow-green antifreeze could cause kidney failure.

4. Keep Their Skin Moist

Human skin dries up in cold weather, and your dog’s skin is likely no different. Ask your vet about potentially limiting winter baths and/or adding a little olive oil or coconut oil to your dog’s food, says personal health columnist Jane E. Brody. Approximately half to a whole teaspoon reportedly helps moisturize your dog’s skin and keeps it from itching.

5. Don’t Forget The Ears

You shouldn’t worry about ear protection without talking to your vet, since it’s only required for certain dogs. A store-bought dog muff might also not even be necessary if you own an acrylic knit human hat, which can be crafted into a makeshift dog muff by simply cutting the top off.

One Last Favor…

Humans are naturally tempted to eat more during colder months, so dog owners might therefore be more likely to give them treats. But this winter, do your dog a massive favor and try not to stray from its usual diet. Your dog is probably spending less time outside, making it more likely to gain weight from an increase in food. Besides, isn’t it easier to go on a diet when you have a partner doing it with you?

Read also: Do You Know Which Ingredients In Your Pets Food Cause Allergies?

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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