Pet Care Tips - Keeping Your Dog Safe and Healthy in the Winter

Posted: 11/12/2012

It's that time of year -- the days are shorter and the temperature is dropping. As winter approaches, here are some tips for keeping your dog happy, safe and healthy during the cold months.

  • Keep Your Dog Leashed - As snow begins to fall on the ground, it is important to keep your dog leashed whenever he or she is outside. If you are used to letting your dog out the back door to go to the bathroom, you should either plant a stake in the ground that is hooked to a chain, or you need to go outside with your dog on his or her leash. When the ground is covered in snow, it is very easy for dogs to lose their scent and not know where they are if they have wandered out of familiar territory. This is especially true if your dog is outside while snow is coming down. Every year, there are many dogs that go missing because they simply cannot find their way home in the snow. Don't let this happen to your pups; keep them leashed!
  • Keep a Towel by the Door - Whenever your dog comes inside after being in the snow, make sure to thoroughly wipe down his or her stomach, legs and paws. Dogs can ingest harmful chemicals such as antifreeze or road salt from licking their paws after going for a winter walk. Double check between your dog's pads for ice chunks or salt crystals. These can get stuck between your dog's pads and cause a lot of pain for him or her.
  • Winter Coat - Do not shave your dog down to their skin during the colder months. If you are used to giving your dog a short trim, shorten the cut during this time of year so that they can have more protection against the cold and wind. If you have a short-haired dog, it is best to have a sweater for them to wear when going outside. Also, when you bathe your dog during the winter, do not let him or her outside until they are totally and completely dry. Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from hypothermia.
  • Indoor Training - Puppies are more sensitive to the cold than adult dogs, which can make the winter months a difficult time for housebreaking. Consider paper-training your dog indoors until the weather gets warmer.
  • Winter Dinners - If your dog engages in a lot of outdoor activities in the cold months, such as hunting, increase his or her amount of protein in order to keep his or her coat in good shape.
  • Warm Bed - Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep when it is cold out. If your dog sleeps on the floor, make sure he or she is not sleeping next to a door or anywhere cold drafts could be entering. It is best to give them a warm blanket or dog bed.