The Winter months bring colder temperatures, wind and snow. Some breeds cope with the cold season better than others but here are 5 universal tips to keep your dog happy and healthy this Winter.
What are the main health risks for dogs in Winter?Frostbite
When it happens, your dog's body pulls blood from the extremities to stay warm. Sometimes the ears, paws and tail can get so cold that ice crystals form and cause long-term damage. Frostbite isn't always easy to spot and you have to regularly check on your dog and look for signs of of pale or grey, hard and cold skin.
This is another serious Winter risk that occurs when a dog spends too much outside, getting wet in cold temperatures. Dogs with poor health or circulation problems are especially at risk. The first signs are cold ears and feet. Then, your dog might get weaker and lethargic. In extreme hypothermia, the muscles stiffen and the heart rate slow down, leading to a life-threatening situation.
How to care for your dog during Winter
1. Stay on top of the paw and ear care
When your dog plays in the snow, their hair gets wet and either freezes or remain cold. Trim the hair on their paws and keep it clean.
Another great tip is to dry their ears as soon as they're back inside to prevent any painful infections.
2. Monitor their time outside
Remember when you were a kid playing in the snow and your parents had to drag you inside to avoid you getting too cold? Well, your dog will most likely be the same. Don't let them get carried away outside for too long. Bring them inside and warm them up to prevent frostbite or worse, hypothermia.
3. Get them a coat
If your dog isn't a Husky or Newfie with a natural coat protecting them, you might consider buying your pooch a Winter coat. Dog clothing can be seen as a fashion fad but a warm coat is necessary to keep them warm. Make sure to pick a design that fits them and doesn't limit their movement.
4. Make a cozy bed
If you haven't got one yet, invest in a comfy dog bed that will keep your dog away from the cold floor. You can make their bed even warmer by getting some blankets. If your dog has joint issues, you might want to consider investing in a heated bed.
5. Avoid exposure to anti-freeze
Dogs are very tempted to lick or drink antifreeze because of its sweet taste. Keep in mind that this product can be very toxic and that a tiny amount is enough to be life-threatening.