7 Winter Dog Care Tips
Brrr! The official start date of winter is December 21, but most of the country has already been experiencing winter weather. Since we winterize our homes, wardrobes and cars, it only makes sense that we should “winterize” our dog care as well. Dogs do require different care in the winter. Read on for our favorite tips.
1. Clothe your dog for the outdoors
If you have a small dog, she will need a sweater or coat when you walk her outdoors. But please do your research before you stock up on cute doggy clothes—some of them aren’t actually made to be taken outside. You want your pup to be warm and that means buying the right clothing. If she’s extra tiny and doesn’t have much hair, get a sweater or coat with insulation.
2. Protect those paws
Dogs’ footpads can be very sensitive to freezing cold pavement. They can also get cracked footpads due to salt on sidewalks and chemicals used to melt ice. Dog boots will protect your pup’s paws from the damaging outdoor elements. But if your dog refuses to wear boots, paw protector wax is available at most major pet supply stores and online retailers like Amazon.
3. Check and rinse paws
During the winter, it’s best to check your dog’s paws after every walk. Overly dry and cracked footpads can lead to infections. A thorough rinse with warm water can rinse off any salt or chemicals he picked up during the walk. Make sure to towel dry his feet so they don’t get too try. If your dog does get an infection, use an antiseptic and cover the wound, rinsing clean often.
4. Limit winter baths
Your dog is sure to love this one! Bathing can dry out winter skin more than usual. Reducing winter bathing can help. Use waterless dog shampoo to freshen him up between baths, or switch to a dry skin shampoo and conditioner to use during bathing.
5. Shelter your dog appropriately
If you ever need to leave your dog outside, get her a well-insulated dog house that can provide a dry place to lie down with protection from the wind. There are safety-approved heated pet beds you can also use to keep her warm. Never leave your pup alone with a space heater—it’s a fire hazard. Investing in a heated dog bowl will keep her water from freezing.
6. Keep your dog visible
There is less daylight during winter than any other season. This means you’ll most likely be walking your dog in the dark. Use a reflective leash, collar or jacket on your dog to keep him visible to oncoming traffic. You can attach reflective lights to his L’il Back Bracer dog back brace also.
7. Adjust your dog’s food portions
Although it is still important to exercise your pup during the winter, many dogs do see a decrease in activity during this time. You may need to decrease her food intake a bit so that she doesn’t gain weight. If your dog’s ribs become difficult to feel beneath her skin and her belly gets rounder, ask about her weight at her vet check-up. A slight decrease in food until spring can help. Sorry, pups, but this includes treats!