If you live in an area with extreme winter weather, you may find yourself wishing you could enter hibernation mode until the weather warms up. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for us humans—and even less so for pet owners, as dogs need year-round exercise and mental stimulation.
Perhaps you and your dog love embracing the elements with fun winter activities; perhaps you both prefer the warmth of the indoors, and only venture out for necessary walks and bathroom breaks. Either way, you’ll want to be sure you read up on our winter safety tips for dogs to keep your dog safe, warm, and comfortable during the cold winter months.
Keep Your Dog Warm
Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, keeping your dog warm should always be a top priority. Try scheduling your walks for when the sun is shining for added warmth, and minimize time outdoors with shorter, closely-monitored bathroom breaks. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your dog, too.
While some dogs have thick, furry coats designed to keep them warm during the winter, others may need an extra layer. If you buy a jacket for your dog, look for one that reaches from the neck to the base of the tail, protecting the tummy area too. Booties can also be helpful for keeping your dog’s feet warm and dry during winter walks.
Make sure your pup has a cozy place to sleep, too. Provide plenty of warm blankets, or even a heated dog bed. Keep his bedding off of cold floors and away from drafts (but not too close to space heaters).
Keep Your Dog Dry
After going outside, dry your dog off with a towel to remove any snow or ice. For added warmth, put a towel in the dryer before heading outside so it’s nice and warm for Fido to bundle up in after he comes back inside.
During the colder months, give Fido less frequent baths. Since shampoos tend to strip the skin and coat of essential oils and winter air tends to be drier, bathing too frequently can result in dry, itchy skin. When your dog does need a bath, we recommend using moisturizing dog shampoo—and make sure the water is nice and warm!
Know Your Dog’s Limits
Every dog is different. Some would happily spend hours playing in the snow, and others prefer the warmth of their cozy bed.
Keep a close eye on your dog whenever you’re outside together. As soon as you notice your dog shivering, appearing anxious, or losing interest in playing, it’s a good idea to head back indoors. If your dog gets too cold, the consequences could be serious.
Older dogs have a harder time regulating their temperature, and joint issues tend to be exacerbated by winter weather. You know your dog best, so use your best judgment when it comes to playing outside. When the weather is too extreme for your pooch, consider ways to exercise without leaving the house.
Put Haircuts on Hold
During the winter, it’s best to cut back on haircuts to allow Fido’s coat to keep him as warm as possible. Never shave your dog in the winter; let your dog’s coat grow long instead.
That said, take some time to trim any areas that seem to be collecting ice balls, salt, and other chemicals whenever your dog heads outside. This includes the hair between your pup’s toes, as ice buildup on the paws can be incredibly uncomfortable.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Dehydration isn’t just a summer issue. Whenever you brave the elements with your dog, bring plenty of water so your dog isn’t tempted to eat snow, which could potentially be filled with dirt, salt, and toxic chemicals.
Additionally, keep your home humidified to protect your pup’s skin from drying out, itching, and flaking. (Your skin will thank you, too.)
Pamper Your Dog’s Paws
Winter salt and chemicals such as antifreeze and de-icers can be toxic to dogs, so be sure to wipe Fido’s feet after you head back inside before he licks his paws.
Check his paw pads, too. The harsh winter weather and chemicals could lead to injury, cracks, redness, and dryness, so you may want to invest in some soothing paw balm or petroleum jelly for added protection. Booties can also protect your pup’s paws in addition to keeping his feet warm (and making him look ultra-stylish).
Feed Your Dog Hearty Meals
Dogs tend to burn more energy trying to stay warm in the winter, so Fido may need to eat a bit more food in the winter to make sure he’s getting enough calories. Of course, you don’t want him to overeat, so it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about any dietary changes.
A well-balanced diet packed with nutrients is also good for supporting your dog’s immune system and keeping canine colds at bay. Supplements can also come in handy. For example, provide year-round support for your dog’s immune system, joints, and skin health with Pet Honesty’s 10-for-1 Multivitamin Chews.