Winter Dog Care Tips
The winter months can
be harsh on our canine companions. As veterinary students and future
veterinarians, it's important we educate ourselves and pet owners on proper
winter care for dogs. From keeping them warm and safe outdoors to maintaining
their health indoors, dogs require some specialized attention when the
Keeping Dogs Warm and Dry Outdoors
When taking dogs
outside during winter, it's crucial we take measures to keep them warm and dry.
Exposure to the elements can quickly lead to hypothermia or frostbite.
Bundle Up with Cold Weather Gear
A dog sweater or
coat provides vital insulation when temperatures dip below freezing.
Particularly small breeds with thin coats benefit from the extra layer. Ensure
the garment covers the torso from neck to tail and velcros or zips securely.
Water-resistant materials help keep skin dry.
Dog boots to protect
paws from ice melt chemicals, salt, and footpad burns from snow and ice.
Measure and size them correctly.
A hat or hood to
reduce heat loss from the head and ears. Ensure excellent visibility.
Pet-safe antifreeze washes help prevent the buildup of snowballs
between paw pads. Apply before outdoor play sessions.
Limit Outdoor Time
Dogs lose body heat
faster in cold climates. Shorten outdoor walks and potty breaks to 10 minutes
for vulnerable breeds. Athletic breeds can stay out longer when appropriately
bundled. Young puppies should relieve themselves and return inside immediately.
Pay attention for signs of a dog
being too cold like shivering and lifted paws.
⛄️ Remember, if it's
too cold for you in light dress, it's too cold for your short-haired dog!
Create a Warm Place to Relieve Themselves
parents should set up a dog-friendly spot for indoor dogs to potty outdoors.
Consider these tips:
Clear an area of snow
near the door to reveal grass, woodchips, or dirt.
Place a plastic tarp
or large doormat down first before synthetic grass pads. This insulates paws
from the frozen ground.
tents retain heat. Secure firmly in windy conditions.
Train dogs to use the
designated potty spot consistently. Reward with treats.
Having a warm, dry
area prevents holding in waste and urinary tract infections. It also keeps dogs
from pottying on undesirable spots indoors!
Outdoor Safety Precautions
Don't forget to
safeguard doggie family members from seasonal hazards and illnesses while
playing in the snow and ice.
❄️ Dogs may nibble toxic ice melts from their paws or fur during
clean up. Opt for pet-safe products or thoroughly wipe paws after each trip
⛸️ The chemicals in
popular ice and snow traction aids, as well as antifreeze, pose poisoning
dangers. Store securely after use. Clean spills promptly.
Make sure cold weather
gear stays free of any loose decorations or strings which curious dogs may
swallow and choke on.
Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia
❄ Even well-insulated extremities remain at risk when outdoors
for long periods. Frostbitten skin appears pale, hard and cold. Hypothermic
dogs shiver, whine and become lethargic.
🐶 Bring any
suspect dogs inside immediately, wrap in towels and gradually warm with
blankets. Avoid active heating like hot packs or sudden immersion in hot water
as these can burn cold skin. Contact the vet promptly as tissue damage can
develop internally. Prevention is key!
Prevent Ice Balls in Fur
❄ Long haired dogs tend to develop chunks of snow and ice between
their paw pads and fur. These ice balls cause significant discomfort, even pain
in some cases. Carefully cut out any hardened packed snow rather than pulling.
Using pet-friendly deicers helps diminish build up when brushing after
🐶 Pay special
attention to feathering fur on ears, bellies, tails and between toes for hidden
ice chunks. Left untreated at home, frostbite may develop.
Don't Overwork Exercise
❄ Frigid temperatures make strenuous exercise dangerous for even
athletic dogs. Heavy panting and lung exertion brings icy air into lungs that
can trigger life-threatening pneumonias.
❄ Avoid marathon running sessions. Instead, engage in shorter,
intermittent play by throwing safe toys for retrieval. Pay close attention to
signs of fatigue or labored breathing during and after the activity.
By adjusting the
duration, pace and monitoring your dog closely, everyone stays safer when
playing in winter weather.
Keeping Dogs Healthy Indoors
Our furry friends
count on us to keep them healthy and happy through the winter season even when
stuck inside. Take proper precautions this season to avoid issues from arising
behind closed doors!
Maintain Exercise & Mental Stimulation
❄️ Shorter daylight hours and cold snaps can mean dogs have more
indoor downtime. Make up for lost physical activity and boredom through:
Indoor play using
puzzle toys stuffed with kibble or treats
Courses of household
Dancing & prancing
for handheld treats
Treadmill walking on
low, dog-safe settings
🐶 A variety of
fun activities maintains joint mobility, healthy weights and prevents behavior
issues like destructive chewing or nuisance barking from developing too.
Beware Holiday Health Hazards
The holidays usher in
a variety of tantalizing temptations for counter surfing canines but some come
with a nasty after effect when eaten.
Christmas trees to prevent tipping. Cover water bowls or use bowls too narrow
for heads to decrease chance of electrocution.
wrappers, strings, ribbons, sewing needles in woolen stocking decor is
attractive and highly dangerous. Place out of reach and tightly lid trash cans.
🍖 Spicy grease
drippings, fatty meat scraps lead to terrible gastrointestinal issues. Vet ERs
see a influx of pancreatitis and bowel obstructions every holiday! Feed only
beverages left unattended can lead to scary inebriation.
By properly securing
hazards, we allow pets to enjoy holiday fun at home safely. It just takes a
little forethought and preparedness!
Handle Winter Itch and Dander
❄️ Indoor heat further dries winter air leading to flaky, itchy
skin and aggravated allergies. Rub a warm, damp towel over coats then follow up
with targeted solutions:
Increase omega fatty
acid dietary supplements
Add a humidifier in
dog rest areas
Bathe itchy dogs
weekly with moisturizing shampoo and conditioner
testing for reacting canines
Addressing the source
cause and keeping the coat clean, well-conditioned staves off scratching fits
and secondary skin infections.
Maintain Year Round Parasite Prevention
🧊 Just because
it's chilly outside doesn't mean parasite risks end! Indoor dogs still
continually shed internal parasites and must remain on monthly preventatives
❄️ Fleas readily overwinter indoors as larvae. Ticks even survive
under insulating snow packs. Once spring thaws emerge, parasites rapidly
re-emerge to infest unchecked pets.
Stick to your vet
recommended schedule for maximum protection! An ounce of prevention equals a
pound in parasite treatment down the road.
By taking a little
extra care, our dogs thrive inside and outside during challenging winter
months. These tips help set pet lovers up for success all season long!