For many parts of the country, we are entering the coldest part of the year, and that means gearing yourself and your dog up for some winter activities like cold walks, playing indoors, and lots of snuggles on the couch. For those who do have to go through the sometimes gruelling season of cold, snow, and ice, we have some tips and strategies to protect your dog from the dropping temperatures.
Tips for Keeping Your Dog Warm
There’s a saying, "if it's too cold for you, then it’s too cold for your dog." Don’t leave your dog outside in the cold for a prolonged period of time if you yourself couldn't tolerate the same amount of time in the cold.
If you absolutely must leave your dog outside, be sure to build your dog a warm shelter that will protect them from the cold. Ideally the floor should be off the ground in order to prevent the heat loss there, while the bedding should be warm, dry, and regularly changed in order to maintain these standards.
When walking your dog in severe cold weather, it is a good idea to bundle up small to medium sized dogs in a dog sweater or coat. Some larger dogs with thick winter coats might not need any additional gear to keep them warm, but if your large dog shows signs of discomfort in the cold, consider getting them a sweater to wear outdoors.
Another thing to consider is how to keep your dog's feet protected from the cold elements. Paws that are exposed to snow, ice or even just extreme cold are at risk. They can dry out, crack, and even bleed or get frostbite in extremely cold conditions. Many people are unaware of how dangerous certain materials used to counter the cold actually are to dogs. Road salts, antifreeze and other coolants all contain such toxic chemicals like “ethylene glycol,” which can be quite dangerous to your dog if it is ingested. The best way to protect your dog’s feet from these toxic chemicals? Dog boots. With a variety of sizes and styles of dog boots available these days, you will be able to find the perfect pair of boots for your dog to handle those cold streets and sidewalks.
Preparation is Key
One of the best things that you can do to protect your dog on a cold day is to simply be prepared for the cold temperatures that day. Check that the heating unit inside your home is working properly and that there is no risk of carbon monoxide leaks. For other types of heating devices like space heaters or fireplaces, it is important to make sure that your dog doesn’t get too close or do something that would get them burned, electrocuted or otherwise hurt in the process of simply trying to get warm. There should be a good distanced barrier between the heat source and your pup.
Another excellent step of preparation that you could take is to prepare an emergency kit for the impending cold. Power outages, blizzards and severe winter weather are all risks, so making sure that you have enough food, water, medicine, and other supplies for your dog is extremely important. Having at least 5 days worth of supplies for everyone, including your dog(s), is highly recommended for some of these emergency cold weather situations.
What to Avoid with Your Dog When it is Cold
There are some things to avoid doing when it is cold. One thing to avoid is giving your dog frequent baths during the winter months. In the cold days of winter, washing your dog too often can result in their natural, essential oils being removed from the coat and skin. This can lead to dry, flaky skin and discomfort for your dog. If the smell becomes so unbearable that you absolutely must do something about it, our Wrinkle Wipes are a great, convenient way to quickly freshen up your dog, and they also help to restore damaged skin right at the surface thanks to a special ingredient called phytosphingosine. Another thing to consider is limiting the amount of time outside when it is extremely cold. It is inevitable that you and your dog will have to go outside at some point, but try to make it quick and get back inside where it is warm as soon as possible.
Everyone has heard the risks of leaving a pup in a hot car, but cold cars can be just as dangerous. While hot cars become like an oven, a cold car quickly becomes like a refrigerator and will chill anyone inside to the bone. Dogs who aren’t in prime health are particularly vulnerable to these conditions. Young puppies or elderly dogs who have seen it all should absolutely never be left in a cold car, even for a few minutes. If you need to bring your dog along for the ride, find some way to get them out of the car. The ideal situation would simply be to not bring them along and leave them nice and warm at home.
Unless you live in a warmer climate, chances are you and your dog are going to face cold weather at some point. With a little preparation and some winter gear for your dog like boots and a coat, you and your pup will be on your way to a comfortable, cozy winter. Remember: if you are cold, then your dog is probably cold, too. Bundle up, and remember to check out our blog for more tips for you and your dog!