Cold Weather Tips for Dogs
Whether your dog loves being out in the cold weather, or they would rather cuddle up by the fire – you should be prepared to protect them when they do venture out in the winter months. It is important to know the risks posed by dogs and cold weather, so you can keep your dog healthy and don’t have to lock your pup up in the house all winter long.
Winter Pet Safety Tips
You may often wonder, “how cold is too cold for my dog?” Well, it does depend on the breed and acclimation to the cold, as well as the actual temperature outside. Some breeds are naturally better off in the cold than others. Your dog may be conditioned to be in the cold for long periods of time – like hunting and working dogs – or they may be used to laying in their plush bed indoors, when it gets chilly outside.
There are of course times when it is simply too cold for any dog regardless of breed or acclimation. During these times, your dog could be in danger of frostbite or hypothermia. Symptoms of pet hypothermia range from shivering and weakness to slowing heartbeat and trouble breathing. If you notice that your dog is experiencing these symptoms, move them to a warm area and cover them with warm blankets, towels, or water bottles - be careful not to use anything that could potentially burn them. Then of course, call the vet so you can get them in for proper care ASAP.
Cold weather can also worsen health conditions, such as dog joint health issues. If your dog does experience these issues, make sure your veterinarian has recently examined them, so they are as healthy as possible for winter. You should also think about adding a supplement to your dog’s food to help with their joint health issues, especially during these cold weather months.
Another obvious risk associated with dogs and cold weather is the danger of the actual elements themselves. You want to be careful walking your dog on patches of snow or ice – so neither you nor they take a fall or pull a muscle. If your dog is running around in a lot of snow, it could also begin to build up between their toes causing pain and discomfort. If you notice ice accumulation on their paws, try clipping the hair between their toes more often to help prevent this in the future. The cold elements may also cause cracked paw pads or bleeding, which you should continue to check for and remedy with the proper balm.
How to Keep Dogs Warm in the Winter
Outside of general safety tips, it is important to know how to keep dogs warm in the winter as well. A lot of people assume that since they have a coat of fur, they can tolerate the cold weather better than humans – which isn’t necessarily the case. Some may strongly believe in keeping dogs outside in the winter, but if temps drop below freezing, it is best to bring your dog inside (especially overnight). Make your dog a nice warm bed and top it with thick blankets, or maybe even an old wool sweater of yours.
But what about taking your dog outside in the cold temperatures for a walk or to play in the yard? Your dog needs to get some exercise, even in the cold weather. Give a doggy jacket a try to provide some extra warmth while you walk, or get some dog booties to protect your pup’s paws from the ice and snow.
As mentioned, there are times when it is not safe for your pup (or you, for that matter) to spend time outside during the colder months. Use your judgment considering your dog's acclimation to the cold, but if it is far below freezing and uncomfortable for anyone (human or pet) to be outside, just stay in. When you are stuck inside, try to keep your dog active by playing and moving around the house as much as you can.
Hopefully these cold weather tips for dogs have not only given you a better idea of how to keep dogs warm in the winter but have also provided you with some information about dogs and cold weather in general. You can still have fun outside with your pups this season - just watch for warning signs of discomfort and don't push it when the temperature is too cold.