Most dog parents know that extreme heat can be harmful to their pups. However, they may not be as aware of the fact that cold can be just as harmful.
Some dogs, like Siberian huskies, are born and bred for snowy, icy conditions. They have a thick, well-insulated undercoat that prevents them from getting cold in almost any situation.
Most dogs aren’t so fortunate, and this means that it’s necessary to plan ahead for winter weather.
If you live in a colder region or are traveling with your dog to a place where the winters are harsh, then it’s wise to be prepared with a few tips regarding how to keep your furry friend warm.
Stock up on Winter Gear
One of the easiest ways to keep your dog warm in even the coldest conditions is with gear like jackets, sweaters, scarves and even boots. Not only do these wearable items look adorable, but they can be really effective when it comes to keeping your dog warm and cozy in the outdoors. Consider putting this gear on your pup whenever you head out for a walk or a bit of play. If the dog or his gear get wet while outdoors, be sure to switch him to dry gear or bring a towel to dry him off.
Go Outdoors During the Warmest Part of the Day
Mid-afternoon tends to be the warmest time of day even on the coldest day of the year. Opt for a walk or outdoor playtime during these hours. If you expect to encounter ice, try to avoid it as much as possible. Walking on grass may be a great alternative that keeps your pup warmer and protects her feet.
Re-use a T-Shirt
If your area is experiencing a slight drop in temperatures that isn’t quite dramatic enough to warrant buying a winter coat for your dog, then consider dressing him in one of your old t-shirts instead. It’s a great way to reuse an old favorite, and it provides an extra layer of protection between your dog and the cold air.
Keep Your Dog Dry
Any time you are out and about with your dog during the winter, it makes sense to travel with a towel and blankets. Use the towel to keep her dry if she gets wet in the rain or snow. The blanket is a welcome addition when you’re back in the car and ready to roll.
Focus on Indoor Heat
Dogs can get pretty cold even when they are indoors. That’s especially true if they are spending time on wood or tile floors or in their crate. Add a blanket to the bottom of the crate to ensure warmth. Try scattering rugs around hard surface floors or spread blankets or towels in places on the floor where your dog loves to lie down.
Prepare for Snow and De-Icing Chemicals
Snow, ice and the chemicals that some cities use to melt them can be problematic for a number of reasons. Your dog’s feet may get cut or irritated from walking on ice with sharp edges. It’s also possible that your dog’s feet will be really sensitive to cold.
The problems only multiply if you live in a municipality where chemical de-icer may be used on roads and sidewalks. You’ll definitely want to protect your dog’s feet from coming into contact with this de-icer because it can cause irritation. It’s also unwise to let your dog lick these chemicals from his feet.
Accordingly, it may be sensible to put boots on your dog any time that she will be venturing outdoors in an area where de-icer may have been used. If your dog will not tolerate wearing boots, then fill a small spray bottle with a solution of water and puppy shampoo. Periodically spritz your dog’s feet with this solution while out and about, using a clean towel to keep the paws extra clean.
Perhaps the most satisfying and fun option for keeping your dogs warm during the long, cold winter is to give them plenty of hugs and snuggles. They will benefit from the body heat that you share with them, and you know how much they love being close to you. Establish a snuggle zone on your couch with a couple of blankets to make the evening cuddling session even more attractive for both of you.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.