Guest Post By: Abby Drexler from Pop Your Pup
As the temperatures drop and the winter season approaches, let’s take a few minutes to talk about dog care. Just as you prepare your home for the harsh weather, take a few extra minutes to also develop a plan for how to keep your dog safe. Here are seven essential tips to help you get a plan in place for the upcoming cold season. Trust me, your dog will thank you!
If you live in a state where the winter months become a snowy wonderland then it’s important to keep a close eye on your pup’s paws. After walks, your dog’s paws may accumulate snow in between the pads. You’ll want to remove that snow so your dog’s paw pads don’t become irritated or cracked. Also, that cold packed snow against the pads could cause concern for frostbite. Of course, snow isn’t the only thing to watch out for during walks.
With the freezing temperatures, your local Department of Transportation may coat the roads with salt and de-icer. Make sure to wash your dog’s paws after walks because these types of chemicals are toxic to dogs.
TIP: Get proactive about paw care by stocking up on a good quality paw wax. Or, if your dog is agreeable, you may even want to consider investing in a pair of dog booties for him to wear on walks!
Providing warm bedding material for your dog to sleep on is essential. If you don’t welcome your pup into bed with you at night to cuddle then offer him a fluffy dog bed. Place the cozy and warming bed in an area where your dog is comfortable lying during the day as well. Additionally, if your dog is not already an inside dog, make him one during the winter. While dogs do have fur, they are still susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite (just like us humans).
Watch the Heaters
Your home may require space heaters to maintain a comfortable temperature. Or perhaps you use wall heaters, baseboards, or a fireplace for your heating needs. This can be especially dangerous for your dog. A dog will gravitate to the warmth and these sources of heat can present a burn hazard.
- Get a cover for the baseboard heaters to prevent your dog from brushing against them.
- Some wall heaters are safe to be touched without getting burned, but make sure to check.
- Move the space heaters to a place where your dog can’t get to them.
- Consider putting a safety gate around your fireplace to keep your dog away.
Adjust Your Dog’s Diet
During the winter months, your dog is likely not as active and burning off the same number of calories as he does in the warmer spring and summer months. That means you’ll want to watch your dog’s eating habits and make sure he doesn’t start gaining weight. Adding even just a few extra pounds can lead to health issues. Only feed your dog the correct amount of food required for the amount of activity he’s performing.
TIP: Along with monitoring your pup’s food bowl, limit the number of table scraps you sneak to your dog.
Change Bath Routine
During the winter, your dog’s skin can get dry and itchy. If your dog frequently takes a dive into the tub to get scrubbed then you may need to pull back. Too many baths tend to dry out your dog’s skin, making this problem worse. Fewer baths? I’m sure your dog won’t mind!
TIP: Adding food sources rich in healthy fats and Omega 3s to your dog’s diet can also help to keep his skin moisturized.
Think the hot summer months is the only time your pooch can suffer from dehydration? Think again! Since you’re heating your home through artificial means, your dog can still get dehydrated during the winter months. So remember to give your dog plenty of fresh water. Also, if you keep a water bowl outside then you’ll need to make sure it hasn’t turned into ice.
Monitor Outside Time
On sunny days, consider taking your dog out for a long walk or some other form of play. Exercise is key for mental and physical stimulation! When outside, keep the following in mind:
- If your dog doesn’t have thick fur, you might want to consider dressing him in warm clothing.
- Make sure to take frequent indoor breaks so that your dog can warm up.
- Watch for toxic substances. During the winter, people might be adding antifreeze to their cars. This substance is sweet and pets like to lick it. However, it is extremely toxic to your dog and can prove to be fatal.
Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Pop Your Pup. She regularly produces content for pet blogs dealing with how to care for and love your pet.