As the temps begin to drop, we’re all prepping for the long winter ahead. But what can we do to better prepare our pets for the cold season?
To start, keep in mind that just because your dog is covered in fur doesn’t mean they are equipped to handle winter weather for prolonged periods of time. Exposure to the elements (think dry, cold air and freezing rain and snow) could result in chapped pads or dry skin for your pet. Even winter walks can turn dangerous — even deadly — if ice-melting antifreeze chemicals or salt are licked off bare paws.
So, how can you make sure your four-legged friends are well-cared for and protected from the cold? Here, we share our top six winter weather safety tips for pets.
1. Keep Your Dog’s Coat Intact
While you should continue to groom your pet year-round, remember that leaving some amount of hair will help to keep your dog warm in winter. If your dog is long-haired, opt for a simple trim to keep clinging ice balls and salt crystals at bay. (Just ask your groomer to do a Mini-Groom instead of a Full-Groom.) If your dog is short-haired, get him a warm dog jacket that reaches from the neck to the base of the tail and also protects his belly. One thing to remember: Even the cutest coats will not prevent frostbite on your dog’s feet, ears, or tail, so don’t keep your dog out too long in below-freezing temperatures.
2. Protect Your Pet From Dry Skin
Cold air can be problematic for your dog, but moving from the frigid outdoor temps to the dry heat of your home can also wreak havoc on a dog’s skin. To keep your pup from experiencing dryness and itch, keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside. Washing too often can also remove natural oils and increase the chance of irritation. So, when bathing your dog, make sure to select a shampoo and conditioner that locks in moisture. Your groomer can recommend a combination that is tailored to your pup.
3. Prioritize Paw Care
Just as our heels tend to crack in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked paw pads. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between her pads to prevent ice buildup. Salt on sidewalks can also burn the bottom of your dog’s feet, so be sure to rinse or wipe them down after neighborhood walks. At Woofie’s, we offer a soothing, deep conditioning treatment that will restore and protect the skin on your pup’s paws. We start with a gentle washing of the paw pads, followed by a massage with our fast-healing paw pad balm. Your dog will love it and it will keep their paws healthy and comfortable through the winter season! If your dog shows signs of discomfort when walking outside on frozen or salted surfaces, you can also use dog booties to protect her paws. There are some great options on the market!
4. Don’t Forget the Leash
Did you know that more pets go missing in the winter than any other season? That’s because snow can actually mask the recognizable scents that would normally help your dog to find their way home. To keep your pets from getting lost, leave them on leash at all times and make sure their collars and tags have updated contact information.
5. Leave Your Pup at Home
We’re all aware of the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car during the summer, but freezing cold temperatures can be just as dangerous. It’s also never a good idea to leave a car running with your dog in the car. To play it safe, just leave your dog at home when you’re out running winter errands.
6. Pay Special Attention to Senior Dogs
Cold weather can aggravate existing medical conditions in senior dogs, particularly those with arthritis. While it’s important to keep your arthritic dog moving, be mindful of icy or wet surfaces and make sure your dog has a soft, warm rest area where they can lay down after exercising.
A good rule of thumb for the winter: If it’s too cold for you outside, it’s probably too cold for your dog.
Walk your dog in short spurts and remember that puppies don’t tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, making it difficult to house train during the winter. If necessary, paper train your puppy inside if he appears to be sensitive to the weather.
If you have any questions about protecting your pet this winter, we’re here to help! We’d love to answer your questions and offer our suggestions for keeping your dog safe so you can enjoy the season.