Caring For Your Dogs During Winter

When the temperatures drop, dogs need special care to stay healthy, safe, and warm. Whether your pup spends lots of time outdoors or goes out for a couple of quick walks, he needs your help to avoid cold-weather health hazards. Keep these basic tips in mind this winter.

Let’s talk temperature!
Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in very cold temperatures, but dogs with thin coats may need to wear a sweater or coat when out for winter walks. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. But remember that coats will not prevent frostbite on the ears, feet or tail … so even with a cozy coat, don’t keep your short haired dog out too long in freezing temperatures.

Go outside when the sun shines
If your dog feels the cold, try to walk her in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer, and avoid early morning or late evening walks. Spend time playing outdoors while it’s sunny; sunshine brings the added benefit of providing both you and your pet with vitamin D.

Limit outdoor time in winter
Your family pet may love to spend time outdoors but in winter even the furriest dog can get cold. Ears, paws and tails are all susceptible to frostbite. Take your dog out frequently for walks, exercise and play … but when the temperature drops, don’t leave him outdoors for long periods of time. A good rule is to go out with him and when you’re ready to come in, he probably will be too.

Cozy bedding
In addition to limiting your dog’s time outdoors on cold days, don’t let your pooch sleep on a cold floor in winter. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm. Warm blankets can create a snug environment; raised beds can keep your dog off cold tiles or concrete, and heated pet beds can help keep the stiffness out of aging joints. Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts, cold tile or uncarpeted floors, preferably in a favorite spot where she sleeps every day so that the area doesn’t feel unfamiliar.

Protect your dog from heaters
Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat so please make sure you have a pet proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harm’s way!

Moisturize
Dry and cold weather can do a number on your pet’s skin. Help prevent dry, flaky skin by adding a skin and coat supplement to her food. Coconut oil is a good natural moisturizer that can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy. If you find your pet’s paws, ears or tail are dry or cracking, you can also apply coconut oil topically as needed.

No overfeeding please!
Although dogs may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust her calories accordingly. A high quality, whole foods, preferably raw meat based diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.

Keep your dog hydrated
Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water. If your dog spends time outdoors in your yard, make sure she has access to a water bowl.

Groom your dog
Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep her properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly, especially before allowing her outside.

Paw care is a must
Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between her pads to prevent ice buildup between the pads. If your dog shows signs of discomfort when walking outside on frozen or salted surfaces, consider using dog booties to protect her paws.

Special care for seniors

Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.


Source: Dogsnaturallymagazine.com

 

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