Your dog has a natural coat of fur, so you may be wondering – why do you need to keep them warm during winter?
Dogs that aren’t protected during winter can suffer from dry skin, infections, cracked paws, frostbite, and hypothermia.
Dog breeds such as St. Bernards and Siberian Huskies have dense warm hair that naturally insulates their body, helping them thrive in cold temperatures. However, other dog breeds aren’t so lucky. For those pups, it’s up to their pet parents to keep them warm and safe during winter.
Bundle Up Your Pup!
Dog jackets can go a long way to helping certain pups better enjoy the cold weather months.
Pets that will benefit from wearing a winter coat include short-haired, senior, small, toy, sick, and underweight dogs. An excellent example of a dog breed that would highly benefit from a winter coat is a Chihuahua – they’re short-haired and small, which means they can’t retain much body heat at all!
Believe it or not, there are a variety of winter dog coats to choose for your pooch. When choosing a winter coat for your dog consider factors such as precipitation, temperature, and wind.
Extremely cold climates require a winter coat that is insulated and multi-layered, but less harsh climates might allow your dog to get by with a single-layer fleece or sweater.
Is your dog adventurous? If your pooch loves to jump around in the snow and play, a waterproof winter coat will keep your dog warm while she focuses on her adventures! These coats come in a variety of styles and colors. Velcro is a common feature on a waterproof winter coat since it ensures a snug fit but still gives your dog the freedom to feel comfortable.
Beneficial features to look for in winter coats also include harness holes, adjustable sizing, small pockets, and reflective strips. Make sure to measure your dog’s length and stomach girth to ensure you get a coat that fits your pooch perfectly!
Opt For Dog-Safe Ice Melts
Ice-melts are a must-have product for pet parents that live in cold climates. Without them, you’re at risk of falling on the sidewalk or even possibly sliding into a tree as you try to back down your driveway.
While ice-melts are a necessity of life during winter they aren’t exactly safe for pets.
Dogs that ingest too much of an ice-melt may experience seizures and tremors caused by an elevation in sodium levels. Some ice-melts also contain calcium chloride which can lead to ulceration of the mouth.
Ice melts aren’t just dangerous to ingest – they can wreak havoc on your dog’s paws as well. Signs your dog’s paws have come into contact with ice-melts include:
- Excessive paw-licking
- Bleeding paws
- Cracked paws
- Chaffed paws
- Irritated skin
- Fear of walking on salt-covered surfaces
- Whimpering noises when your dog walks
Sounds pretty bad, right? The good news is that there are some pet-safe ice-melts that contain an alternative ingredient called urea. This ingredient is also a salt, but it’s the specific type of salt that your dog’s body already produces and is less likely to irritate their paws or make them sick.
Another alternative ice-melt is one that is made from propylene glycol which is used in a variety of canine medications and foods. It’s unlikely for this ingredient to irritate your dog’s paws and it gets the job done de-icing just fine.
Protect Those Paws!
Even if you opt for dog-friendly ice melts, your neighbors might not! This is why, even with pet-safe ice melts, you’ll probably also want to consider investing in dog booties.
Winter boots protect dogs from sharp ice, packed snow, ice-melts, anti-freeze, chemicals, and extreme temperatures. Dogs with sensitive paws, elderly dogs that need traction, and pooches who lick the bottom of their feet will benefit the most from winter boots.
Shopping for the perfect pair of winter boots for your dog is fun since there are so many styles to choose from. Always consider your dog’s specific needs when choosing booties. Common things to consider are fit, snug straps, water resistance, high visibility, durability, comfort level, and pleasing aesthetics.
Dogs that have never worn boots will need an adjustment period before using them outdoors. Generally, dogs are used to having their paws exposed and often use them to sense their surroundings.
Wearing boots can lead to some awkward but funny scenes when your dog tries to walk in them for the first time. You’ve probably already seen funny videos of dogs trying booties for the first time on YouTube. It sure gives pet parents a good laugh!
Unfortunately, some dogs don’t get used to the feeling and refuse to wear their booties, no matter how cute they are. If this happens with your dog, there are alternatives you can do to protect your pup’s paws.
Musher’s Secret is an excellent alternative to booties. This 100% natural food grade wax forms a protective barrier for your dog’s paws. You can just apply a thin layer of wax to your dog’s paws, rub it in gently, and your pup is good to go.
The wax absorbs quickly and doesn’t damage your carpeting, clothing or floors. It’s great for protecting against road salts, but it won’t provide your dog with much traction and your pup’s paws might still get quite cold!
Your Dog Still Needs Exercise!
All dog breeds require a specific amount of daily exercise. It’s essential to their health and overall well being that you provide plenty of exercise opportunities, even though it’s cold outside.
Bundle up yourself and your pooch for a walk in your neighborhood winter wonderland! If your dog can’t stand the cold or you aren’t able to go for winter jaunts, there are some indoor activities you can do to help your pooch burn that excess fuel.
There are tons of interactive dog toys available that can keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated indoors. Treat-dispensing balls will shoot out treats as your dog rolls the ball around, snuffle mats can be filled with kibble for a sniffing mission for Fido, and flirt poles can be used to send your dog sprinting back and forth around the house.
Don’t feel like getting a bunch of toys and gear? You can set up plenty of fun, mentally and physically challenging games around the house with just a handful of treats!
Put your dog in his crate or gate him off while you toss piles of treats around the house (if you’re concerned about the mess, you can start with just the kitchen or rooms with floors that are easy to clean). We suggest using Jiminy’s cricket treats for something extra special and crunchy (plus crickets may be a scent that your dog will find quite exciting).
Next, open the crate door and let your dog go at it, sniffing and searching for his goodies in your own makeshift scavenger hunt!
Do you have any additional tips for keeping your dog safe during the snowy season? Share your ideas with us!
About the Author: Meg Marrs is the Founder and CEO of K9 of Mine, a dog-dedicated website focused on helping owners better care for their four-legged friends.