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Caring For Dogs During Cold Winter Months – Useful Tips For Every Dog Owner

11 June 2017

Winter is a season of numbing wetness and cold in many areas, and many dogs, especially those that aren’t adapted to the cold are negatively affected by it. It’s important that you keep your dog warm throughout the winter months to maintain its health. Here are simple, but useful tips that will ensure that your canine friend stays safe and warm:

Don’t Leave Your Dog Outdoors Unsupervised

It’s imperative that you don’t leave your dog playing outside unsupervised without a heated shelter. The fact that they have furs doesn’t mean that they can endure the cold, so keep them warm indoors at all times. Some dog breeds such as Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes are extremely adapted to living in cold weather conditions; however, there are others that can’t stand the cold such as Dobermans and Greyhounds. Make sure that you understand your canine’s particular susceptibility to cold, to enable you to take care of it better.

Provide Proper Shelter

Ensure that your dog remains indoors throughout the winter period unless it’s going out for nature calls or exercises. Young puppies, for instance, have no ability to keep themselves warm outdoors, like their older counterparts; therefore, keeping them indoors will ensure that they are safe and protected from the cold at all times.

Ensure that your pet’s bedding is warm and well placed. Winter is not the time to allow dogs to sleep on the ground, as the cold can endanger their lives. Custom-made bedding with cushions, blankets and old clothes can provide the much-needed warmth that your dog needs. However, don’t forget to clean the mess and change the bed frequently to reduce smell, germs, and fleas.

If you have an outdoor dog such as a sled dog, make sure that you put warm bedding in his shelter. Materials like fresh straw can be used to provide a good layer of insulation against the cold ground of the shelter. Other than the insulation, an outdoor dog shelter should also have a heating system and a sloped roof, especially if you live in a region with an extremely cold climate. In addition, ensure that the entrance is protected from the rain during rainy seasons. In case winter becomes long and exceptionally cold, bring your dog inside the house; it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Use Protective Clothing

Canine clothes help to keep them warm throughout winter, especially puppies, old and sick dogs. Some common breeds that will benefit from wearing protective clothes include Chihuahuas, Whippets, Greyhounds and Miniature Pinschers. Dog sweaters and jackets are available in pet shops in all sizes; therefore, finding something that’s fitting for your canine friend shouldn’t be a problem.

For wetter winters, you may want to consider attaching a rainproof layer of clothing over your dog but ensure it’s breathable. However, remember that not every dog will want to wear clothing, so don’t force it on them. Give them time to get used to it till they are comfortable.

Just like you, a dog will shiver when it’s cold; a sign that it needs to be kept warm. If this happens, put him is a warm shelter immediately. However, if you suspect that he has hypothermia, call the vet right away to come and check him up.

Use Dog Booties

The salt, as well as other chemicals used to melt ice and snow, can irritate the dog’s paws. Therefore, buy booties to protect the dog’s paws when walking on salt and snow. However, if you can’t afford them, make sure that you wipe all the paws using a damp towel before he licks them and irritates his mouth.

Puppies that are trained from childhood to wear booties will easily do so as adults. However; certain dogs can’t tolerate booties, so you may find it hard to teach them to do so for the first time. Therefore, be patient as you try helping them get used to the booties.

Take Shorter Walks

During winter, it’s important that you don’t make your dog walk for too long as you usually do in warmer weather. Taking shorter walks can still enable him to get adequate exercise and relief breaks without causing him to become too cold.

Exercises are important to maintain the physical and mental fitness of your pet and should continue even during cold seasons. Therefore, be creative and come up with indoor games that will keep him active. Examples of indoor games you may want to consider include tug-of-war, fetch, hiding toys and allowing them to run around the house.

Protect Dogs against Winter Illnesses

Dogs can fall ill during colder months, especially from respiratory infections, frostbite and consuming toxic substances. Keeping your pet warm and dry can help protect him from these diseases. Respiratory infections like kennel cough (which is an equivalent of human cold) are brought about by exposure to cold temperatures, so keep him as warm as possible. However, if his respiratory infection persists, you need to call the vet immediately.

Frostbite is another common problem especially among the hairless breeds. To diagnose it, you need to look at the ear and tail tips in particular; if they appear white, gray or red, and feel cold and hard, then your dog must be suffering from frostbite. In such a case, you need to wrap your dog in a towel or blanket to warm him, and then see the vet at once.

In addition, keep away toxic wintertime items such as anti-freeze from your dog. It may taste sweet to him, but it’s highly toxic and licking just a small amount can kill him immediately. If you suspect that your dog has ingested anti-freeze, seek immediate vet treatment to save his life.

Keep Food and Water from Freezing

Make sure that your dog has constant access to clean and unfrozen food and water. You can use a heated dog bowl to help keep the food from freezing outdoors, in case you have an outdoor dog. However, since the activity levels of your dog decrease during winter, it’s important that you don’t overfeed him so as to prevent him from becoming overweight. If you’re not sure of the energy needs of the canine, talk to your vet to find out.

The above important tips, if followed, can help ensure that your dog remains warm and protected during cold seasons.