Winter comes, the snow falls and your dog's world is turned upside down! Some pooches live for the cold months, leaping and bounding through the white stuff the moment it hits the ground. Others may not be so impressed, standing at the door, unable to take that first step into the cold.
Either way, almost every dog spends at least some time outside during winter, so it's up to you to make sure that your pupper is properly protected once the thermometer drops. Below are steps you should consider taking to keep your four-legged friend as happy and healthy as possible during the snow months.
If His Coat is Thin, Buy Him a New One
In North America, you can basically obtain almost any breed of dog out there. While this is awesome in some ways, it means that you likely own a pooch that wasn't built for harsh winters. Dogs like Huskies, Malamutes and Samoyeds are blessed with thick, glorious fur coats perfect for sub zero temperatures! Pretty much everybody else has some version of a shorter fur coat. The less fur your canine companion is sporting, the more in need of a doggy coat he is. The plus side to this is that the market is chock full of cool coat choices, so your doggo can be looking fresh while feeling warm.
Constantly Care for His Paws
Stepping on snow and ice all of the time can be pretty rough on doggy foot pads. To make matters worse, the salt that is spread all over roads and sidewalks in some communities causes serious irritation to animal feet. And if your furry buddy attempts to clean his paws after a walk, he could ingest some of this salt (which also happens to be toxic!) Avoid heavily salted areas while on strolls with your favorite pooch, and be sure to give your dog's feet a good wash once back inside. Some pups will tolerate dog booties, but others may protest by not walking at all once the shoes are on. You can also purchase special foot pad creams or balms. Some of these are made from natural, organic ingredients and will deeply soothe and repair cracked foot pads.
Be Careful How You Groom Him
The middle of winter is not the ideal time to shave your dog's fur. This may be a no-brainer, but some do not realize how ill equipped their pup will be without his full coat. It's also not a good idea to bathe your dog too frequently when the air is chilly. This can dry them out and cause serious skin irritation. One thing you should be doing more of, however, is trimming the fur around and between your dog's toes. These hairy bits can become full of snow and ice, which can make walking really hard for your fur-baby.
Be Smart About Food and Water
If your dog has a water dish outside, chances are it will be frozen solid if there's snow on the ground. Even before you see any white stuff, a metal water dish can hurt your pooch's tongue if it gets too cold. Make sure your pup has access to fresh, flowing water no matter the time of year. Some people think it's a good idea to give their dog some extra blubber when it's cold. But the thing is, unless your dog spends all of their time outside (which is only alright if their coat is crazy-thick and they have a winterized dog house), they really aren't burning more calories when it's cold. In fact, many mutts burn less energy during winter, preferring curling up on the couch over bounding through snow banks. Making your pup fatter will probably only create health problems for them in the future.
So now you have a few key reminders to help keep your pupper safe and warm once things get frosty. It's also important to keep antifreeze far away from your animals. It tastes sweet but is highly poisonous!
With a little bit of preparation, you and your pooch can have an excellent time when the weather outside is frightful. And if you're not a fan of winter, you can still look forward to cozy cuddles with your canine companion from inside your home!