If you’re a person who hears the word “winter” and cringes, imagine how it must feel for your dog. Sure they have a fur coat on at all times, but they aren’t able to buy themselves an extra warm coat for especially cold days or put lotion on their paws to prevent dryness and cracking. Also like their human counterparts, very young and very old dogs are more susceptible to health problems due to cold weather. That’s where you come in. Here are some tips for making the winter months a little more bearable for you and your dog.
The best advice is to think of what you need and then relate it to your dog. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them too. The fur helps keep them a little bit warmer, but some dogs were bred for cold and snowy winter months and some weren’t. The ones with short, wiry fur aren’t bred for the winter. Dogs with double coats are much more able to withstand the elements, but even they need special care in the colder conditions.
Petroleum jelly or specially made paw protectants massaged into paw pads will help protect from salt and chemicals on the ground. When coming in the house from a walk, be sure to towel dry your dog and wash and dry his feet and stomach to remove any ice, paying special attention to in between the toes.
Grooming in the winter months needs to continue, but it should be modified to suit the season. Dogs should not be shaved or have their fur cut too short in the winter. In contrast, fur that gets too long will become matted and won’t hold warmth, so somewhere in the middle is best.
Food is another thing to be mindful of in the winter months. Feeding your dog a few extra calories in the winter isn’t a bad idea especially if they’ll be outside a lot. They’ll need the extra calories to keep them warm. It’s also important to keep dogs well hydrated – make sure that if you keep their water outside that it’s in a heated bowl or replaced frequently enough to avoid freezing.
If your dog does spend a lot of time outside in the winter months, be sure that they’re in a protected dog house. The house should be made of heavy plastic or wood and be in good condition. It should also be void of drafts and openings for moisture and wind to get through. Line it with blankets or hay and change the bedding frequently, and perhaps consider buying a heated dog bed to keep your dog cozy and warm.
Keep in mind that the same things that make you uncomfortable will make your dog uncomfortable. Treat these members of your family the same as you’d treat yourself, and bring them in when it’s cold out. You can always keep them occupied indoors with the latest "Paw-it-Forward" box!
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