Dos and Don’ts for Dogs This Winter

April 15, 2021

Winter is coming and unlike the White Wolves of House Stark, your dog is not built to live its life in the snow and ice. Like you, they need a bit of extra help during the colder months to stay healthy and safe.

Here are the best ways you can look after your furry loved one all winter long:

Preparation

 

preparation for Dogs This Winter

 

  • Extra Layers: Dogs come in all types of fur; short/long, single/double coat, thick/thin. They can help or hinder in the colder months, but none are enough to stay out all the time in the open elements. Consider getting your dog a coat or sweater to boost their protection from the cold. They should be sized to cover from your dog’s neck to the base of their tail, and around their stomachs to protect their belly. Booties may also be helpful, especially if your area has lots of snow and the ground is treated for easier transportation of vehicles.
  • Keep them away from chemicals: If you use antifreeze, make sure it is kept safely away from your beloved companion. Antifreeze is temptingly sweet to dogs but can be fatally toxic, even in small amounts. Winter salt for paths is also toxic and can burn your dog’s paw pads. It’s best to keep all chemicals away from spaces your dog has access to. It’s particularly important to ensure they don’t lick chemicals, so be sure to wash their paws off and dry thoroughly if they come into contact with these toxins during walks.
  • Cosy bed: Make sure they have an extra cosy and warm spot to sleep. Don’t leave your dog on concrete or cold floors, either indoors our outdoors. Warm blankets and raised beds will help and should be positioned in a place that is protected from wind and drafts. You should create your dog’s winter sleeping space somewhere they are familiar and feel comfortable in. Older dogs might also need a heating pad, especially if they suffer from arthritis.
  • Diet: It may be tempting, but don’t overfeed your dog in the colder months. If anything, your dog will likely use less energy during the day, so they may not need to eat as many calories. Keep your companion on a high-quality, whole food diet; raw meat can be especially good for keeping coats healthy while providing quality energy. Coconut oil and other skin and coat supplements are a good idea to add to their diet when it comes to avoiding dry and flakey skin.
  • Heater danger: Make sure your heating devices are pet proof (in all rooms). Dogs can be attracted to the extra warmth, but curling up too close can cause injury. Avoid using space heaters, and ensure covers are on baseboard heaters. Fireplaces must have pet safe screening to prevent sparks from reaching your pet’s fur, as well as avoiding any nasty burns.

General Dos & Don’ts for Winter

 

General Dos & Don’ts for Winter

 

  • Have plenty of fresh water: The same goes for humans, but it’s always worth a reminder – snow is not a good option as a water source. Human, and dog bodies, lose too much heat in the process of converting it back to water. Make sure you regularly check your pup’s water bowl, especially any that are outdoors, and break any ice off if it forms over the surface.
  • Maintain grooming: Clean, well-groomed coats help with insulation. Always dry your dog thoroughly after a bath and do not let them go outside straight away. You can carefully trim fur between paw pads to prevent ice building up in these delicate spaces.
  • Remove Snow: If you have snow in your yard, make sure you remove it regularly and have spaces that are snow-free. Keep snow away from fences to avoid tempting escape ramps. Make sure to keep your roof clear too, as heavy snow sliding off the edge can cause serious injury to your dog.
  • Maintain walks and playtime: Try to walk your dog in the late morning or early afternoon for maximum warmth, avoiding the longer dark of the winter nights as much as possible. Play in the sun for warmth and a Vitamin D boost for both you and your dog. It’s important for senior dogs to keep up their exercise as lethargy and arthritis can lead to increased pain. Make sure you stop playtime if your pup gets too cold, and watch for warning signs of hypothermia. Remember if you are getting too cold, your dog probably is too.
  • Be Vigilant: Limit the amount of time your dog spends outside on cold days. If it is too cold for you without a jacket, it will be too cold for them. Walk your furry companion in familiar areas and stay close to them. Frozen lakes, ponds and rivers pose dangers, as well as deep snow drifts. Keep an eye out for slippery surfaces, which can be just as dangerous for your pet as they can be for you!
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a car: Just as in warm weather, your car’s temperature can shift rapidly when not running. Sudden drops in temperature like this can be lethal for your dog. Running the car with the heating on while you are gone is also problematic. Enclosed spaces, like garages, could result in Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Be safe, leave your pets at home if you are running errands, and try to make your trips as short as possible.

Winter Warning Signs

 

Dog's Winter warning signs

 

  • Signs of Cold: If your dog is whining, shivering,exhibiting anxious behaviour, seeking places to burrow, or stopping play early, these can all be signs that they are becoming too cold and need to get someplace warm – now. Pay attention to these signs and make sure you have plenty of warm blankets and somewhere cosy for them to recover body heat.
  • Signs of Cold: If your dog is whining, shivering,exhibiting anxious behaviour, seeking places to burrow, or stopping play early, these can all be signs that they are becoming too cold and need to get someplace warm – now. Pay attention to these signs and make sure you have plenty of warm blankets and somewhere cosy for them to recover body heat.
  • Pale or Grey Skin: If you notice this, especially on your dog’s extremities (Paws, Ears and Tail), this is a sign of Frostbite. The skin will feel cold and hard to your touch, and be extremely painful for your dog. In severe cases, frostbite can lead to the affected areas turning black and sloughing off.
  • Getting wet: If your pet gets wet, get them warm and dry as quickly as possible. Wet and cold is a large factor in cases ofHypothermia.
  • Hypothermia signs: If your dog has spent too much time in the cold, has gotten wet out there, has existing bad circulation issues or already in poor health, they are more susceptible to hypothermia. Signs will increase with the severity of the hypothermia:
    • (Mild) – Shivering, Extremities considerably colder than the rest of them.
    • (Medium) – Depression, lethargy, and weakness.
    • (Severe) – Still muscles, slow heart, or breath rate, unresponsive to stimuli. This level is life threatening for your dog.

Follow these guidelines and you will be doing the best you can for your pets. It’s important to seek advice and guidance if you have any problems with your furry loved one. Be sure to call us if you have any concerns or questions, and our friendly team will be able to assist you.

Got a question?

We’re here to help you with any urgent enquiries or assistance you might need. Need a little extra help, or not sure if you should bring your pet in for a check-up? Give our team a call and we’ll happily answer your questions.