In this post we will be providing you with 10 ways in which you can make sure your dog is safe and comfortable this winter.
1. Keeping your dog warm
Unless you can see them physically shivering it can be hard to tell when a dog is cold, especially when they aren’t in the same room as you. Generally, dogs will feel uncomfortable in temperatures below 0°C; dogs more prone to cold may start feeling uncomfortable when it falls below 7°C. Don’t let your dog stay outside for long periods when the temperature reaches these levels.
If you often take your dog out in the car you can also make sure that their pet cage is fitted with something like a blanket or potentially even a heated mat just to make extra sure they aren’t uncomfortably cold in the boot. If you are taking your dog out in the car it’s important just like in the summer, that you don’t leave them in it.
2. Wipe their body and feet down
After walking your dog you should make sure you wipe their stomach, legs and feet as their skin can be irritated by the snow and grit that has been put on the roads and walkways. Wipe away the frost and snow from their feet and check for any cuts or grazes when your dog returns from being outside. Using warm water and a soft cloth is an effective way to make sure they’re as clean as possible.
If you have a long-haired breed of dog, trimming the hair between their toes will help prevent grit and ice balls from getting stuck between them which would cause irritation. If your dog would allow it you could also look into buying a pair of dog boots that will both keep their feet warm and also protect them from the grit and wet.
Look into getting a dog-safe moisturizer if the cold weather is cracking and drying out the pads on your dog’s feet, ensure to consult a veterinarian first to find an appropriate one for your dog. Never use moisturizer made for humans as you could do more harm to your dog’s paws than good.
3. Make sure they’re in sight
As it starts to get dark out earlier in the winter, visibility is often limited earlier and later in the day for both you and your dog. By putting a light-up collar or coat on your dog or even just putting a small light on the collar, you will be able to see where your dog is more clearly.
Make sure that if it is or has been snowing that the dog is kept on their lead as there could be potential pitfalls and dangers hidden in the snow.
4. Keep them away from frozen ponds and lakes
If you usually like to walk your dog near bodies of water it is important to be extra careful in the winter. Things like frozen ponds may not have ice thick enough to take your dogs weight so avoid letting them from walk on them. Never be tempted to go in after them if your dog does fall through the ice. Try to encourage them to swim back to you and call the emergency services.
5. Adjust their food intake
There are different factors brought by the change in temperature that could cause your dog to need more or less food. Try to judge accordingly whether you need to feed them more or less. If your dog isn’t as active in the winter then make sure you adjust the amount of food you give them accordingly to avoid weight gain.
On the other hand, you must make sure that your dog is getting enough food as it’ll feel even weaker and colder if it is undernourished. Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime.
6. Special care for vulnerable/elderly dogs
Like people, dogs are more prone to illnesses during the winter. If your dog is older or has existing medical conditions, like arthritis, the cold weather can often make these worse. It’s still important to maintain a good level of exercise even with older dogs, however, it could be dangerous for them. Making sure you keep your dog away from icy surfaces they could slip and injure themself on is important as well as making sure they are protected from the cold temperature itself. Look into joint lubricators for old dogs and dogs with arthritis as they can help ease the pain and discomfort that can flare up in the winter.
7. Keep anti-freeze away from them
If you own any anti-freeze it is important to that your pets don’t go anywhere near it. You may not know this but antifreeze tastes sweet to dogs. The only problem with this is that it is also highly poisonous and even a small amount can be fatal. Keeping your dog away from anywhere that could have had a spillage of anti-freeze such as a garage or driveway will prevent them from licking up any chemical they may encounter.
8. Snow removal
Although snow can be a lot of fun, it can also be dangerous for your dog. If there’s snow piled up near fences it opens up escape routes allowing dogs to jump over them more easily. When you clear snow in your garden, pile it away from fences to prevent your dog from climbing over.
When snow and ice accumulates on the top of roofs and temperatures rise, all of it can slide off and injure your dog. Make sure to keep your dog away far away from any building that has ice and snow on top of it to prevent injury.
9.Keep them away from Holly and Mistletoe
While classic Pine Christmas trees aren’t poisonous to dogs there are other Christmas plants that could have a negative effect on your dog if consumed.
Holly berries are a common Christmas decoration which can look pretty and give your home a nice Christmas feel. Unfortunately holly can make your dog very sick if they manage to take a nibble of it.
If your dog has eaten some as they’ll show signs like diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy. Make sure you take your dog straight to the vet if you think that they’ve has ingested any.
You may also have Mistletoe up in your home at this time of the year and while it is festive, mistletoe can be nasty if your dog decides to give it a taste. Like holly, it’s quite poisonous for dogs. If you have any in your home, make sure you keep it out of the reach of any pets so that they can’t try and eat it.
Symptoms your dog may show after eating mistletoe can include confusion or strange behaviour, vomiting and diarrhoea, and also decreased heartbeat and breathing rates. If you think that your dog has eaten mistletoe, you must take them to the vet as quickly as possible.
10.Provide enough Shelter
If you keep your dog outside of the house it can be a lot colder for them if their living area isn’t heated. When the weather is very cold, you should supervise your dog when they’re outside as their ears, tail and paws are susceptible to frostbite.
Ensure that your dog’s outdoor kennel or shelter is dry and draft-free. Ideally, the shelter should be 4 inches off the ground, with a sloped roof. You can also insulate the kennel by using straw.