Keeping Your Dog Safe And Happy During Winter Months
Special thanks to our guest blogger, Janice Miller of Safety Today.*
With a coat of thick fur and a bundle of energy, most dogs enjoy wintertime and the endless play possibilities it brings. Bigger breeds enjoy the brisk air and usually have a great time romping through the snow. However, no matter what breed your dog is, there are some precautions that need to be taken when colder months arrive. It’s important to remember that a thick fur coat is not adequate protection against frostbite or exposure, and many dogs can become dehydrated in winter if they stay outside too long.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to protect your dog from the elements, no matter how big or small. Here are the best tips on keeping your pet safe and happy during the winter.
Limit outside time
He may love being outside in low temperatures, but no matter what breed your dog is, you’ll need to limit his outdoor play time and bring him in often to warm up and get a drink. Since it’s difficult to keep water from freezing when it gets cold out, you may not be able to leave a bowl for him to drink from outside, and dehydration is a real issue. Let him play, but bring him inside after twenty minutes or so, depending on the temps.
Watch for poisons
Winter brings beautiful days and fun in the snow, but there are some things you’ll need to watch for when you take your dog for a walk through the neighborhood. Antifreeze, salt, and de-icer are just a few of the toxic chemicals that could be left behind by cars, so keep your pet away from driveways and off the road. If possible, stick to cleared paths at a local park or to the sidewalks. When you get home, wash his feet off with a warm washcloth or pet wipe immediately; if he did pick up any chemicals during the walk, it’s possible he could lick them off once he’s home.
It’s also a good idea to go around the house after the holidays and make sure there isn’t any chocolate or other human treats within your pet’s reach. In the right amounts, chocolate can be hazardous to dogs.
Don’t slip up
Watch for ice during walks, especially if your dog is older or has joint issues. One slip and fall on the ice could lead to a serious injury with a lifetime of complications.
Warm him up
Small or short-haired dogs are especially susceptible to the cold, so invest in a cute doggy sweater or jacket when going out on walks. At home, it might be advantageous to move his bedding away from windows or doors into a warmer spot, and provide him with a blanket; many dogs like to snuggle and get warm during winter months, just like we do.
Up the protein
While it’s always a good idea to consult a veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, it might be helpful to add a little more protein to his dinner or give him an extra scoop of food when winter rolls around, especially if he likes to spend time outside. Dogs use up a lot of energy trying to stay warm, so making sure he has enough to eat–or adding tuna or chicken to his regular meal–will go a long way toward keeping him happy and healthy.
Hope this helps your dog better enjoy the winter. Stay warm!
*Janice Miller is a veterinarian and is passionate about helping shelter dogs find foster care until they can find permanent homes. She’s proud to be part of Safetytoday.org, educating people on home and community safety.