It’s that time of year again…the cold has settled, the snow is falling, and that’s only the beginning. When temperatures drop, dogs are susceptible to sickness and cold weather injuries just like humans. That’s why it’s important to take measures to protect your pooch from harsh winter weather. Here are a few tips that will help keep your dog safe this winter.
1. Dress your dog in sweaters, coats, and boots.
Bonnie's Lacey is a snuggly cocker in her well-fitted sweater. This tip is by far the most fun because you get to play dress up with your bud! Depending on the length of your dog’s fur and your dog’s weight, a jacket maybe needed to add warmth to your pooch’s body temperature when outdoors. A light sweater can be helpful around the house on chilly days. Boots are also important to protect paws from painful effects of cold extremes like frostbite and ice burns. You can find a variety of styles and sizes of cold weather gear at pet stores. If you’re a talented seamstress, you can craft a dog coat yourself with tutorials similar to this one from Style Novice. If a DIY doggy sweater and boots are more your style, you can check out videos like this one from Celine Vautour.
2. Form a barrier between your dog’s paws and cold snow and ice.
To keep your dog’s paws safe during walks, it’s a good idea to apply a barrier on your dog's paw pads. This will protect his toes from cold weather chemicals like de-icers and salt. Use petroleum jelly or a special salve on days when temps are warmer and boots aren’t needed. Look for products with natural ingredients to avoid irritation. Musher’s Secret proves its effectiveness by being used on sledding dogs in Canada. If you want to make your own, Frugally Sustainable offers a simple recipe. To prep paw pads prior to balm applications, trim hair between the paws and keep nails short. You can also wipe down paw pads with warm water or ointments after walks to remove snow/ice chunks and chemicals.
3. Use pet friendly ice melt.
Buying a chemical and salt free ice melt is another way to keep your pet’s paws safe. Applying a safe ice melt to your sidewalk and driveway can also ensure your pet’s safety in case of ingestion. Check local pet stores or online retailers for healthier ice melt alternatives. Dog.com offers over 8 pounds of Safe Paw ice melt for a little over ten bucks.
4. Be observant.
When your pup is outside, even for a short amount of time, keep a watchful eye. If you notice any behavior like shivering or burrowing, take your pet inside. Odd behavior like whining, slow movements or stopping, and looking for warm places can indicate an onset of hypothermia. These tips, along with limiting your pup’s time outdoors, can help assure an enjoyable winter – even with the dreadful cold! If you’re lucky (or unfortunate) enough to have a dog that enjoys playing in the snow, remember these tips and have fun!