Winter is coming. Ok, winter is already here. People are cleaning the gutters, buying warm clothes and shoes, and getting the tire chains ready. Winter means magic, joy and holidays but it also means snow, cold winds and wet sidewalks.
Dogs depend on us to help them stay happy, healthy and warm this winter. There are a lot of things to consider and be aware of if you want your pup to experience the cold season with the same magic and joy as you do.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure that:
A Place to Stay Warm
There is no doubt that the vast majority of dog owners keep their animals inside, but there are a lot of dogs that sleep outdoors. A blanket in the dog house is probably enough to keep your pup warm during fall, but this winter you will need to walk the extra mile.
Before the cold weather hits, make sure the door of the doggy house prevents wind from entering in. It is smart to place the house with the entrance facing a wall.
The dog house should be slightly raised from the frozen ground with wood beams or paving stones. Additionally, you can cover the bottom with cedar or straw shaving for better insulation. There are even special commercially sold dog winter houses. You can find out more how to winter-proof your doggy house here.
Water and Food
It may come as a surprise, but dogs dehydrate quite often during the winter. A responsible dog owner has to frequently check the water bowls and make sure they have not iced over. Metal bowls are a poor choice as they can easily freeze causing your pup’s tongue to stick.
With low temperatures, all bodies require extra energy to stay warm. The amount of food you are giving your dog should be increased by about 20-30%. Also, keep in mind that raccoons and other wild animals are especially eager to get your pet’s food during the winter, so keep the bowls where other animals cannot access them.
Trimming the hair on your dog’s paws is a good idea. The hair gets wet and freezes easily causing pain and discomfort, so keep it short. Besides ice, salted sidewalks can also cause chronic dryness of the paws. Using a high-quality paw balm during the winter will save you and your pup from an unnecessary trip to the vet’s office. Check out all about paw care here.
Photo by Mark Glancy
The idea of dogs wearing clothes is ridiculous for some people, but they do make a difference. It is especially difficult for smaller dogs to stay warm on winter walks. A simple dog sweater can make the walk more comfortable. Even the thickest sweaters cannot protect your pup fully from extreme cold, so when the conditions are really harsh, it’s better to limit the time spent outdoors. You can invest in dog toys to keep the boredom away.
Brushing lets the old fur fall off allowing for the new one to fully grow in. Matted fur has low insulation properties and takes forever to dry, so keep it all spruced up to help your furry friend stay warm. If you end up in a tangled situation, let a professional groomer do the job for you.
Know the breed
Some dog breeds require minimal care during winter, while others have quite specific needs. Learn about your dog’s breed and see what’s expected from you.
To keep your dog warm this winter, insulate the doggy house, check out the food bowls, get some doggy clothes, keep their coat well groomed and learn all you can about the breed and the particular needs. Happy wintering!