Tips For Protecting Your Dog in Cold Weather

Tips For Protecting Your Dog in Cold WeatherIt’s wintertime and the cold weather is upon us. We are bracing for an especially harsh blizzard this weekend. My little dogs are not fans of snow. They may venture outside for a moment but I never take my eyes off of them and limit their exposure to a couple of minutes. Fortunately they are paper trained so they do not have to go outside at all if it is brutally cold. If we have to be outside for a while, I will put a coat on them, but none of them like to be dressed and forget booties. My little guys would rather be south of the boarder in the winter!

But here we are and it’s time to take care as the temperatures drop and the snow falls.

Clearly common sense rules when taking your dog out in the cold. Larger dogs can tolerate the cold and enjoy playing in the snow. Regardless, people and pets should not be exposed to freezing temps for long, if you are cold so is your dog!

Please keep your pets warm. Small dogs should wear a coat or sweater if you are going for walk. Boots are great, but most dogs don’t like them. When outside, if your dog starts to pick up his paws and hesitate bring him inside ASAP. His feet hurt.

Beware of salted roads and sidewalks, the chemicals in the salt compounds are damaging to a dog’s paws. Make sure to clean their feet after a walk. Some dogs will lick the salt and that is dangerous too.

Antifreeze from your car is poisonous to dogs. It tastes sweet to them. Check for residue in your garage or driveway.

Sadly, stray dogs will perish in sub freezing weather. If you see a stray or if you know of a dog that is left outside please contact animal control, your local shelter or police department.

Please take care of your pets and stay safe in the cold, here are some great tips from the ASPCA;

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.


Additional Resources:

Cold Weather Safety Tips [ASPCA]
8 Tips For Caring For Your Pet This Winter [PetMD]

Can Dogs Read Human Emotions?
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Dogs