How to keep your dog warm in winter
The first time your dog comes into contact with snow can be a very memorable experience. Seeing him hopping around, digging in the snow, and trying to eat it will put a smile on your face. Read on to learn how to keep your dog warm in cold weather and snow.
Let your dog get used to the snow gradually
When your dog first comes into contact with snow, be sure to watch his reaction. Unless he’s shivering or trying to come back inside, you can allow him to stay outside for longer periods, as long as you do so gradually. Start with short periods outside so that his paws can get used to the cold.
Remember: resistance to cold depends on the dog
Puppies have trouble regulating their body temperature outdoors, and older dogs may have health issues like diabetes or altered metabolism that make it more difficult to acclimatize. Small dogs with thinner coats are also more susceptible to cold than dogs bred to be outdoors in cold weather.
Prepare your dog
If you notice that your dog gets cold easily, bring dog sweaters, coats, or boots. Some dogs even get cold inside in the winter! If your dog’s coat is rather long, avoid shaving him during the winter and wipe his paws when he comes inside to prevent his footpads from staying wet for a long time.
When is it too cold to take a dog outside?
If it’s cold, limit the time your dog spends outside. Use your common sense to know if it’s too cold to take your dog outside. If the cold wind gets into your ski jacket, it’s probably too cold to let your dog play outside for long. Always watch for signs of discomfort, such as if your dog is holding his paw up in the air because the ground is too cold to lay him down.
Make bathroom breaks easier and shorter
Shovel some snow to expose a patch of grass that your dog can head for to do his bidding. If he tends to do his cravings on the mat, take him for a brisk walk for two or three minutes and give him a treat every time you get home. This will teach him a new routine. If it’s too cold where you usually bathe him, try a new place with less snow or a place protected from the weather by an awning or the like.
Be careful with salt and antifreeze liquid
In winter, there is coarse salt everywhere, so try to prevent your dog from eating it. It is not toxic, but it can cause stomach upset. And if it rubs against your dog’s footpads, it can irritate. It may be useful to obtain coarse salt that is safe for dogs on your land.
Take extra care to prevent your dog from coming into contact with antifreeze. The latter has a sweet taste, but it is extremely toxic. Be on the lookout for blue or green substances in parking lots in front of homes, on sidewalks, and the surface of cars.
Learn how to warm up your dog
If your dog seems too cold, cover him with a towel or blanket. If your dog is comfortable with hair dryers, you can use one on a low setting to warm him up. Avoid heating pads, which can cause third-degree burns. However, if you want something warm for your dog to snuggle up to, give him a warm sock filled with dry rice from the microwave. Be sure to test it against your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot.
If you think your dog is too cold, know that his normal body temperature is between 38.3°C and 39.2°C. To take your dog’s temperature, you must use a rectal thermometer.
Treat cracked foot pads
Try a moisturizer designed for cow’s udders to relieve your dog’s paws. After applying any product to his paws, keep your dog occupied with treats or a food maze to prevent him from licking his paws. If you want to avoid any damage to your dog’s paws, put dog boots on him before going outside or make sure to clean his footpads every time he comes inside.
Get your dog plenty of exercises
It can be difficult to motivate yourself to go out and exercise with your dog in cold weather, but if your dog remains inactive, his pent-up energy can lead to nervous or destructive behaviors. Once your dog is used to the outside temperatures and he’s weathered the cold, you can continue your walks and continue to play in the yard with him. You can even form piles of snow in your yard to make an agility course!
If it’s just too cold where you live, try finding an indoor dog training room. A feeding maze is also a great option to keep your dog busy on those long cold winter days.