Imagine you went out in the cold with your bare dog paws – it would be really cold, right? We wouldn’t do it with our bare feet, so think about that furry friend of yours. Even with winter on the way out, it’s still chilly from time to time. You may love to wrap up warm under a quilt, but what about your little furry friend curled up in front of the fire? He or she feels the cold too, so here’s some tips to keep them warm and comfortable – especially dog paws.
Regardless of whether it’s winter or summer, water intake helps your dog keep potential health issues at bay. Keep their water bowl filled always, whether they’re overly thirsty or not. Having it there means they can slurp whenever they like. They’re unlikely to drink as much as they would in summer, but it’s still important to keep their hydration levels up.
Keep them dry
Dogs constantly go from the outside chill into the warmth your home. As this can’t be avoided, it can at times cause flaky and itchy skin. You can prevent this by ensuring your home is humidified and by drying your dog with a towel as soon as you return from a walk. Take priority with their feet, as these suffer the most during winter.
Keep them warm
Short-coated breeds like chihuahuas and vizslas feel the cold more than dogs with longer fur, and they can struggle when it gets really chilly. If they start to shiver easily or appears less enthusiastic about going for a walk, your dog could probably do with a coat. If you find yourself already cosy under a soft woolly coat, your dog no doubt needs one too! There’s plenty of sweaters and jackets available for dogs – but remember to take their measurements correctly. If a sweater is too tight, they could tear it and you’ll have to start anew. It’s extremely important that your dog feels comfortable in what they wear.
Be safe with the heat
Make sure they have somewhere warm to sleep or relax in that is free from damp and the draught. If your home is particularly cold, consider buying your dog an electric heat pad to sleep on, or a dog hot water bottle. However, if you don’t have these, your dog will search out hot objects in the house to stay warm. They will likely lay down close to a lamp, open fire, or a heater – whatever you may have on to keep heat circulating. Take care to ensure that all of these are well out of reach of your dog, or that you have a fireguard if you do have an open fire.
In the garden with dog paws
Don’t leave your dog alone in the garden during the worst of the cold weather. Most pets spend a lot of their time inside, and therefore aren’t used to extreme weather and could potentially develop frostbite or hypothermia, especially if they’re outside without protection.
Dogs don’t need additional calories in winter as they’re unlikely to burn them off as often as they would in summer. They typically get lazy as there is less of exercise than normal. Therefore, stick with a controlled diet to stave off obesity and to improve their coats to help protect from the cold.
Dandruff is common in winter and can always be avoided with some regular grooming – this also prevents knots and matting, as well as preventing fleas from moving in. Buy a shampoo to suit your dog’s fur, as choosing the wrong product can lead to more dandruff and irritable skin. If you start to notice consistent itching, inform your local vet as they can prescribe a medicated shampoo. Also, hold off on trimming their fur as the coat keeps them nice and warm – they will have shed their lighter summer coat and the heavier one is there for a good reason.
Maintain those dog paws
If your dog has long hair around their feet considering giving it a bit of a trim. During cold snaps this prevents the hair freezing and potentially painful chunks of ice forming between your dog’s paws. Similarly, if walkies have been across paths and roads that have been dusted with salt or grit, wash their paws when you get home to prevent any irritation occurring. You may also consider applying Vaseline or dog paws balm before walks to prevent cracking and discomfort from them drying out. If they’re lifting their dog paws during walks, wanting to stop, or is generally crying, it’s likely that their paws are too cold.
Brightness in the darkness
With less light in the mornings and evenings, it is likely that you’ll be walking your dog in the dark. Ensure you’re wearing reflective clothing so that motorists can see you. It’s a good idea to get your dog a high visibility jacket too.
It’s very important to keep your dog on a lead near frozen water, but better to avoid ponds and lakes that are frozen over completely. Should your dog run onto one, do not pursue them. Most dogs are strong swimmers and can get themselves out easier than you’d likely to be able to. If they’re in trouble though, call the emergency services.
Dogs don’t want fair-weather owners and would prefer to exercise in all weather conditions. However, you would need to use your own judgement and stay safe – take extra care in icy conditions where slippery hazards are higher. If you’re elderly or infirm, it’s important to not put yourself at risk by walking your dog in potentially hazardous conditions. Instead opt for indoor playtime to stave off their boredom. Remember to keep those dog paws warm!