Winter is coming and it is time to start preparing for the COLD... which also means your dog. Certain breeds are more susceptible to cold: little dogs, short haired dogs. lean dogs (like a greyhound), puppies and older dogs. There are dogs that are "cold weather dogs". This means their fur and body is build to handle colder temperatures. BUT, even these dogs can get cold if left outside for too long or the temperature drops below zero.
How can you tell if your dog is cold? A sure sign is if they start to SHIVER. They will also hunch their back (trying to make themselves smaller!), make sounds of distress and try to go to any shelter they can find (veer towards the neighbors porch while on a walk). If the vulnerable padding on their paws starts to freeze or becomes compacted with snow, they will limp or lift one paw up at a time. Cold weather can be extremely dangerous for animals. Yes, they can get hypothermia which can lead to death. Here are some tips to keep your dog warm and safe this winter:
- Don't leave your dog outside for too long. Yep, even dogs can get frost bite.
- Be careful on ice! Just like a human, your dog can get injured on ice by slipping. If a dog is running on ice, their feet will slip and increase their risk of pulling or tearing a joint.
- Brush your dog regularly. A well groomed coat keeps proper insulation.
- Don't leave your dog in the car for hours upon end thinking they are sheltered. Temperatures can drop to freezing in a car just as they can get way too hot in the summer.
- Feed your dog extra calories if they play a lot outside or are working dogs. Their bodies burn extra calories trying to maintain body heat in cold temperatures.
- Towel or blow dry your dog when they come inside and are wet. BUT, also make sure they don't get too close to the fireplace or portable heater and get burned!
- Clean your dogs paws when they come inside. The salt on the sidewalks can irritate their skin and cause their pads to crack. If their pads are cracked, apply some paw butter.
- WATCH OUT FOR ANTIFREEZE. Dogs think this smells and tastes wonderful, but it is deadly poison for them.
What can you do if your dog absolutely loves Winter Wonderland? You can purchase them coats and boots! There are many different kinds of dog coats (or sweaters). Some are made of wool or fleece and some are made of water resistant fabric (for the more hardcore dogs). Here is an example of a sweater:
A sweater or coat should fit snugly and completely cover their tummy. Dogs do not have much fur on their bellies, even the cold climate dogs. Often, their bellies will rub against high snow and cause little scratches and snow burn. When you fit your dog to a sweater/ coat make sure they can walk comfortably, it's easy to get on and off and they are able to use the bathroom if need be.
As for dog boots, there are serious dog boots and fashionable ones:
These are FASHIONABLE.... and not really all that practical. But FUN!! (and maybe you want to match your dog...)
Boots for the more serious, outdoorsy dogs. They are kind of pricey, but they have a stronger sole and will last A LOT longer than the ones I will show next...
Your typical dog boot. They price in at about $20, but in my experience, have only lasted about one... maybe two winters. Eventually the dog's claws will start to wear out the front toe and they will rip.
If you are really crafty, I have pinned a tutorial on how to sew your own dog boots here.
Winter can be an absolutely gorgeous time of year to enjoy the outdoors, but always remember to keep yourself and your canine companion safe. Watch for signs of being overly cold and respond accordingly and you should be good to go!