Before the weather outside turns frightful, make sure you and your dog are ready for winter
Brrrrrr! It’s already starting to get cold outside. In no time at all, we’ll be walking in a winter wonderland. There are plenty of dogs that love playing in the snow – “Look at all that fun white stuff to play with!” As you pull out your winter boots and jacket, don’t forget about what your dog will need to keep warm and safe while he’s outside. Sure, he’s got a fur coat, but when the temperature drops, it may not be enough to protect him against the snow and ice. Here are 7 ways to get your dog ready for winter.
Dogs Boots: The ice and salt can injure a dog’s paws. Salt can get caught in between a dog’s paws, which can cause damage due to its sharp edges or if it’s ingested (dogs lick their paws, eating the salt in the process). On top of that, salt and ice can burn a dog’s paw pads. Not only do boots protect against injury, they also help your dog grip on the ice – no more slipping and sliding. If your dog refuses to keep the boots on, be sure to give his paws a good wipe or wash when you’re finished up outside.
Dog Coats and Sweaters: These aren’t a fashion statement or a frivolous accessory. Some dogs need the extra protection from the biting cold. Some breeds are built for this kind of weather (like Huskies and Labs), but others need the protection – especially those with short coats and smaller breeds. Of course, it also depends on how much fat and muscle your dog has. Before you buy a coat or sweater, take your dog’s measurements, or better yet, bring your dog into the store to try them on. Make sure that if fits comfortably, doesn’t affect visibility or mobility and is easy to put on and take off.
Dry, Itchy Skin: We can all attest to this winter pest – our skin gets dry and flaky thanks to the cold air outside and the warm, dry air inside. And this problem plagues dogs as well. To help both you and your dog’s skin health, consider using a humidifier. This handy appliance adds moisture into the air, which in turn helps keep skin hydrated. Regular brushings can also help with this issue, as it gets rid of dead hair and stimulates your dog’s skin to produce more oils. If you give your dog a bath, use shampoos with oatmeal, an ingredient that help soothe skin. Finally, you can boost your dog’s intake of essential fatty acids with Omega-3 and Omega-6 oil supplements.
Limit Your Time Outdoors: Even dogs can get frostbite – on their paws, tail, nose and ears. Don’t leave your dog outside for long periods of time. And never leave them in the backyard alone during this time of year, especially if they are an indoor dog. Even sunny winter days can be deceiving, as wind chill can make the actual temperature colder than it really is.
Winterproof Your Home: The cold can be quite determined and will try to find ways into your home. Drafts sneak in under doors and tile floors becomes unbearably cold. Keep your dog away from drafty areas and give him a warm blanket or pad if he likes to lie on the tiled floors.
Never Leave Your Dog in the Car: It’s just as dangerous to your dog in the winter as it is in the summer. If you leave your car running and your dog is alone in the car, carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real threat to his life. Even if you turn off the engine, it’s still a bad idea. The temperature in the car will drop quickly, leaving your dog without any protection from the cold.
Beware of Antifreeze: We need it to keep our cars going in the winter, but antifreeze is deadly to dogs. It tends to pool on driveways and sidewalks. Our dogs can walk through it and lick their paws afterward or can go right in for a sniff and a taste. Keep an eye out for this liquid while outside on walks and wash your dog’s paws once you get home.