Cold Weather Safety Tips For Your Dog

As much as you still need to provide exercise and mental stimulation for your dogs during the winter months, you also need to be cautious about extremely cold temperatures and how it can negatively affect your pooch. Even though our dogs have a “built-in fur coat” that helps keep them warm, they still need us humans to provide guidance as to how much time they should spend in the cold weather, as well as signs we need to be watching for when our dogs do venture out into the cold weather.


Which Dogs Are Most Affected?

Generally, dogs with shorter coats will not cope as well in the colder temperatures as longer haired dogs will. Furthermore, toy breeds and short-legged dogs who are closer to the ground and potentially have to wade through snow will get chilled more quickly. Elderly dogs, puppies and any dogs with health conditions will also be most affected from the cold weather. Your dog’s heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease will interfere with his ability to maintain a normal body temperature.


If you have a long-haired dog, do not shave him during the winter months. You can simply keep his hair trimmed in order to minimize ice balls clinging to his hair. For shorter haired dogs, you should consider having him wear an appropriate coat or sweater while being outside, which provides coverage for his neck area as well as from the base of his tail to his belly.


Towel Drying Your Dog

Always have a towel handy to dry off your dog’s wet and cold paws. After venturing out for walks, wash and dry your dog’s feet and stomach to remove ice or any salt/chemicals he may have been exposed to. Don’t forget to clean and dry between his toes and remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.


Limit Dog Bathing

Bathing your dog too frequently during the winter months can cause his skin to become itchy, dry and flaky. If you must bathe your dog, use a moisturizing dog shampoo. Also, if possible, use a humidifier in your home, which will help keep moisture in the air.


Wear Dog Booties

Ideally, you should avoid slippery sidewalks and salted roads, however, having your dog wear dog booties will help to eliminate some of the slipping and chemical buildup on his paws. After your walk, be sure to immediately remove the booties and do a quick rinse of them as well, just to ensure there is no ice or chemicals present. Be sure to completely dry them afterwards.


Don’t Let Your Dog Off-Leash

Dogs typically have a very strong sense of smell, however, because of potential snow or ice covering the ground, their smell may be compromised. They are much more likely to become disoriented in the winter months because of snow or ice covering the ground, and their inability to get their bearings and recognize their normal surroundings.  Because of this, you should avoid allowing your dog to roam on their own. Limit their outdoor time to leashed walks or to enclosed areas.


Outside Dog Shelter

If you must leave your dog outside, do so only if he is healthy and also has a well-insulated shelter with plenty of bedding. You will need to include water in the shelter and be sure it is changed frequently so that it does not freeze, and be sure he is consuming a high fat diet which is an easily metabolized source of energy.


Signs To Watch For:


  • He Stops Moving – If your dog suddenly stops playing or walking and holds up his paws, he may have balls of snow or ice between the pads of his feet. You will want to immediately get him inside to clean and dry his feet, taking caution to remove the ice buildup.


  • Your Dog’s Shivering – This is a tale-tale sign your dog is too cold.


  • He’s Anxious – Dogs may become more anxious when they get too cold. He may stop what he’s doing, try to get comfort from you, and may try to get back inside. He may even start to whine or bark to get your attention. He may be trying to tell you he’s had enough.


  • He Looks For Safety – Your dog may start looking for a safe place to hide from the cold weather. This could be anything from a tree, bush, garage, etc. If he starts looking for shelter, this is another sign to get him inside.


You know your dog better than anybody else and know what his normal personality is. The most important thing to do during cold weather is watch your dog. By paying attention to him and the way he acts, you will know whether he is coping with the cold temperature OR whether he has had enough of it!



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