It’s that time of year: the snow is falling, the temperatures are plunging, and you’re warming your jack-frost-bitten nose by fireside. Your dog is snuggled up beside you: cozy, content, and cuddly. Why? Because you’ve taken the proper precautions to keep your pup safe and happy this winter!
The winter months are especially harsh on animals, so the best thing you can do to ensure your pet’s safety this season is take extra special care, making sure to follow these tips below:
1. Limit Time Outdoors
When your dog is outside, be sure to keep an eye on him/her. Temperatures can plummet quickly, but even as they stay steady, your dog may get cold fast. Make sure to only keep your dog outside for 15 minutes or less when temperatures drop. Extreme temperatures most commonly affect ears and tail tips, where lack of circulation causes extremities to lose blood and oxygen flow. When possible, keep your pup indoors to keep them safe and cozy.
2. Watch Out for Hypothermia and Frostbite
While limiting your time outdoors, check your dog’s ears and tail tip each time they come indoors. During extreme cold, it’s important to be wary of frostbite and hypothermia, two cold-induced conditions to be careful of. Frostbite occurs when the dog’s extremities become too cold, and lose the proper circulation required to keep those parts of the body warm. Keep a close eye on this, because frostbite is much more difficult to spot than hypothermia– look out for cold, hard patches of skin, and any area where the skin turns grey. Hypothermia, on the other hand, is easier to spot. It occurs when a dog has been left in the cold for too long, and when proper circulation is disrupted. You can prevent hypothermia by limiting your dog’s time outside, and by keeping a close eye on them when they’re not in the house.
3. Don’t Leave your Dog Outside Alone
Just as you should be cautious of how long your dog spends outside, you should never leave your dog outside alone. Continuously check in to make sure they’re doing okay– especially in temperatures close to or below freezing. Never keep your dog outside in these conditions longer than 15 minutes at a time to ensure proper circulation and warmth. Making sure you never leave your dog alone outside prevents cold-induced conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite, while also showing your dog you’re not abandoning him/her to the harsh winter weather.
4. Keep your Dog Moisturized/Hydrated
Cold weather quickly dries out and irritates skin, as you may notice in your own skincare routine. Where you can easily apply lotion and be done with it, dogs can’t quite do the same. To keep your dog moisturized and hydrated, try these safe moisturizing products. For hydration, make sure that your dog has constant access to a water source, since dehydration can onset quickly during dry winter months. To learn more about hydration, read this article from Canine Country.
5. Sweaters for Long Walks
For small dogs, walks outside in the cold air could be dangerous! To help keep your dog warm, and avoid conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite, investing in a sweater and/or dog booties is a great idea. When looking at sweaters, be sure to find comfortable, durable, and high-quality sweaters to ensure maximum warmth and coziness. When choosing a sweater, go for comfort and warmth instead of aiming for style.
6. Stay Inside!
As often as you can, keep your dog indoors! Staying inside more often than not ensures your dog’s warmth and comfort when the cold becomes too dangerous. NEVER leave your dog outside overnight in cold temperatures– this is extremely dangerous, and will cause hypothermia, which can be life-threatening.
7. Protect From Heaters/Heat Sources
When keeping your dog indoors, keep them away from heat sources. If they’re too close, they can begin to overheat, or even risk burns. The most common heat sources to keep your pet away from are fireplaces, ovens, and heaters. If your dog seems cold, let them cozy up in a nice dog bed or a bunch of blankets.
8. Take Care of your Pup’s Paws
Some dogs, such as golden doodles, get severe snow clumps in their paws. If this happens to your dog, wipe down their paws when they come inside from the snow, and remove what you can. Because of the cold, dogs’ paws also tend to crack on the pads because of ice and winter salt. If you’re concerned about salt on the roads and sidewalks, check out options for dog booties that will keep your dog’s paws both warm and protected.
9. Never Leave your Dog in the Car
Just as you should never leave your dog in the car during hot summers, you should never leave your dog in the car during freezing winters. When cars sit for a certain period of time in winter, the interior absorbs the cold from outside, creating a very cold environment within the car. When dogs are left in these environments for any length of time, it can be extremely dangerous.
10. Keep Dogs Outside During Warm/Sunny Spells
When the sun peeks out from behind gloomy skies, this is the perfect time to take your dog outside! Let your pup get as much sunshine as possible, since for the majority of winter weather, they’ll be indoors with limited natural light. The sun is good for humans and animals alike, so make sure to get yourself outside during warm, sunny days as well! This is the perfect time for longer walks and more time spent outside with your favorite furry friend.
The winter months can be long and harsh, but with these care tips, you’ll be sure to keep your dog happy and healthy, all season long!