We’ve all seen those videos. Dogs tumbling through the snow and loving every minute of it. It’s a joy to watch dogs experience their first time in snow every season.
However, not all dogs are made for the brutal cold that comes with this fun experience. Just like us, some of them need extra protection to prevent frostbites and hypothermia. This applies to both indoors and outdoors!
It can be confusing understanding how best to prepare your dog for the winter so we’ve curated the most important tips to have your puppers winter ready.
Get them acclimatized to the cold first
As winter rolls around, start to have your dog get acclimatized to the cold. Begin with short walks outside and slowly increase the time spent outside over the course a few days so they are well adjusted.
If you see your pupper shivering and dragging you back inside, it’s a sign they haven’t fully acclimatized yet.
Invest in puppy coats
Acclimatization only goes so far and the -10 degrees wind chill isn’t something any of us are built for without some extra help. In your dog’s case, invest in a solid winter coat. It’s worth spending money here so you’re getting a coat that is both lightweight, well insulated, and doesn’t hinder your dog’s mobility too much.
Keep them hydrated
Extra layers are super helpful but this needs to be paired with good hydration. Always ensure during the winter your dog is drinking extra water as this is crucial to helping them regulate their body temperature. Even while outside, have a plastic bowl with you so your puppers can hydrate as needed to fight the cold.
Have some extra treats on hand
With a good layer and hydration, comes the last element to the keep warm trio. Treats! That’s right staying warm requires extra calories. While your dog is outside jumping around in the snow, be sure to toss them a few treats to keep their energy levels up. This will not only help keep them warm, but also happy while fighting the cold.
Be mindful of rock salt or antifreeze
Now before you panic, rock salt and antifreeze aren’t toxic, but they most definitely will give your dog an unwelcome empty stomach and irritate their paws. Be on the lookout for blue or green colored antifreeze while walking your dog to keep them away from it.
When home, wipe off any salt or antifreeze residue from their paws when back home to prevent them from ingesting it while licking their paws.
Protect their paws
Being mindful of rock salt or antifreeze is one, but you can also protect your pup's paws too so the rock salt doesn't irritate them. Get some paw pads so that their protected from the cold and don’t dry up. A painful side effect to the winter is your dog experiencing cracked paws. Paw pads helps prevent this!
Watch for signs of frostbite
In extremely cold temperatures dogs can suffer from frostbite. Usually, this will appear as black or grey patches on your dog's skin and appear cold to the touch. Keep an eye out for this on the extremities of your dog and in any exposed areas. Don’t try to apply any remedies at home but call your vet immediately should you spot any signs.
Avoid thin ice
There are far too many stories of puppers having to be rescued from icy waters. Yes, it's fun to slide across the frozen pond but ice easily cracks and it's not worth the trouble for yourself or your pet. In general, avoid your dog ever walking on frozen lakes or ponds, and keep an eye on them when off leash to prevent them from wandering to such places.
Make their bedding cozy
Protecting your dog when outside is paramount! But, don't forget to keep your pet warm when back at home. Ensure as winter approaches that their bedding is warm and cozy. Use warm blankets, and heated beds if possible. Placement is important too so keep your pet's bedding away from cold drafts.
It's cold, but exercise is important!
It’s tempting when things are cold to keep your dog home a lot more than usual. Who are we kidding, walking your dog in the harsh winter isn’t fun for either of you. However, your dog needs exercise and can get nervous if he or she doesn’t get their usual walks. If the weather is hazardous, it’s good to have an indoor pet gym as a back up for such times as well!
Aim for late mornings or early afternoons
With exercise, the ideal time to do this is also late mornings or early afternoons when the sun is most likely shining, and it's the warmest. An added benefit to this is all the vitamin D you and your dog can get during those dark winters!
Dogs can get sensitive to the cold and this may prevent them from doing their usual bathroom breaks outside. Be sure to have pee-pads or old newspapers handy in such cases to allow them to relieve themselves indoors.
Artificially warm them up
Another nice hack when you’ve taken your pet outside for a walk is to give them a comfy warm up when back home. Use a blow dryer on low setting to quickly warm them back up. Be careful to not use this on their paw pads, but instead invest in some paw pads or blankets to wrap them up once home.
Know your pet's breed
With all these tips being said, the extent to which your dog stays warm is also based on its breed. Be aware of the care you'll need to provide. Huskies, for example, will probably not need a winter coat for added protection while your chihuahua could definitely use one!
Well, there you have it. Each of these tips are important but apply your best judgment on how to use them. Keep in mind, at the end of the day, it's freezing cold outside and some of the preventative measures that apply to us humans more or less are needed for your pet. The very least, take measures to keep them warm with some layers, and avoid extremely cold days where possible.