Here's How To Take Care Of Your Dog In The Winter When The Weather Is Icy & Frigid
If you don't live in a city that stays balmy all year long, chances are you'll need to take some extra precautions to make sure your pupper stays nice and warm throughout the winter months. When you really think about it, doggie noses and ears can get just as chilly as yours. It can sometimes be confusing to figure out how to take care of your dog in the winter, because it's hard to know exactly how warm your pup's fur actually keeps her, or whether the frozen ground is hurting her tiny paws.
Luckily, Dr. Daniel Edge, DVM, MBA, director of veterinary specialty operations for animal health company Zoetis, has a few suggestions to help you make sure your dog stays cozy and safe, even when the temperatures dip below freezing this winter.
Of course, as you follow all of these tips, don't forget the fun that you can have with your little guy during this time of year. Wintertime means you can shop for cozy dog scarves (yes, those are an actual thing, and they are magical), run through the snow together, and warm up side by side under the fluffiest blanket you can find.
Whatever the temperature, you'll always have a cutie pie to snuggle with as the snow falls outside (hopefully in matching Christmas sweaters). Here's how to take care of your pupper this winter.
Shop for all the puppy sweaters
One of the parts of winter I love the most is the ability to wear so many cute, fluffy sweaters. As temperatures plummet, why not go shopping for your dog, too? Not only are they going to look undeniably adorable no matter what you get them, but according to Dr. Edge, a winter wardrobe might be able to help your pup navigate the cold a little more comfortably.
"Your pet may have a built-in fur coat, but that doesn't mean they are any less prone to hypothermia or frostbite," Dr. Edge tells Elite Daily in an email. "When it gets cold, the body naturally pulls blood from all extremities to the internal organs to retain body heat." And as a result, he explains, this can make your dog's floppy ears, tail, and paws susceptible to frostbite.
But, he says, as long as they're dressed in a cozy, dapper-looking sweater, they'll be totally toasty.
Look out for signs of hypothermia
In addition to dressing your little guy in puppy coats and cold-weather booties (these PetSmart doggie Uggs may be the cutest things I've ever seen), keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia on those especially frigid days, says Dr. Edge. Things like paleness and intense shivering could point to the condition, he explains, so make sure to check in with your vet if you suspect your pup may have been outside in the snow too long.
Wipe down your pup's paws
"Winter walks can become downright dangerous when your pet encounters ice melts on sidewalks and streets," Dr. Edge tells Elite Daily. "The chemicals used in ice melts can cause redness, cracking, or chapping in your pet’s paws."
Plus, he adds, if your dog accidentally licks up any of these chemicals on the street, that could really present some issues. "If your pet ingests any of these hazardous melts, symptoms can include vomiting and neurologic signs (trouble walking, muscle tremors, or seizures)," Dr. Edge explains.
To make sure your pup stays safe, be extra careful to wipe down their feet and legs after you spend some time outdoors so that they won't be tempted to lick their paws and ingest some of those dangerous chemicals. And if you suspect your dog has been exposed to some of those chemicals, Dr. Edge recommends seeking veterinary assistance immediately.
Keep walks brief
Some of my friends can leave the house coatless in December completely unfazed, but others need to pile on as many layers as physically possible just to keep from shivering. This is also true for pets, Dr. Edge tells Elite Daily. Factors like type and length of coat, body fat, activity level, and health can all affect whether your pooch is comfortable in the chilly weather or not.
Be extra careful not to leave your dog alone in vehicles or outside in cold temperatures, Dr. Edge emphasizes. One easy way to figure out if it is, in fact, too cold, is to judge by whether you would feel too cold in the same situation. "You will probably need to shorten your dog's walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks," he says.
Have playtime indoors
If your sweet canine doesn't want to spend a lot of time outside, fight off boredom by playing tug of war with a rope toy or practicing new tricks you've been meaning to master.
One game I personally love is creating your own scavenger hunt using dog treats. Hide little snacks throughout your apartment, and watch your pup go wild tearing around to find the goodies. Not only will she get some energy out, but she'll be able to practice using her sharp sense of smell, too.
Prepare an emergency kit
"Cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards, and power outages," says Dr. Edge, so it's important to be prepared not just for yourself, but for your pup, too. Create an emergency kit with food, water, and any medications your pet might need, like heart-worm or flea medicine. Try to put enough aside to last for five days, Dr. Edge suggests.
If you do lose power, at least you always know that you'll have a warm cuddle buddy to snuggle up with until things are back up and running.