Dog in winter snow

As winter forces its way upon us, we are remembering to get new snow tires and winterize the RV, but what about our dogs? Our canine friends can use some extra winter care, too.

Here are a few things to consider as the weather gets colder:

  1. Check those temperatures. Some breeds of dogs (huskies, malamute, Newfoundland) have coats that compensate for extra chilly weather. However, many domestic dogs are not prepared for the bitter cold and can even develop hypothermia and frost bit in frigid temperatures. If your dog is going to be out very long, a coat is a good idea. This will help him stay warm, though remember it won’t protect the ears, nose and tail!
  2. Try to take your pet out while the sun is shining and play fetch or take a little run during this time. As a bonus, you’ll also be getting that much-needed dose of Vitamin D.
  3. Add to that bedding. Just like you may need an extra blanket on those cool, crisp nights, your dog could also use a bit more bedding to keep warm and cozy. Place your dog’s bed in a warm place away from drafts (even if they sleep with you, they may need an extra blanket).
  4. Make sure your dog’s skin isn’t dry or itchy. Check his ears, muzzle, belly and all other areas, especially where their skin is exposed. It is dry, use some coconut oil which is a good, natural moisturizer.
  5. Keep your puppy hydrated! He will need just as much – or maybe more – water in the winter as he does in the summer.
  6. Groom your dog regularly – brush him often. Dry his coat thoroughly after washing, especially prior to going outside.
  7. Check your dog’s paws often, making sure they are not dry or cracked. You may need to use booties if it’s a particularly harsh winter or your dog is walking on salt melt a lot. At any rate, you may need to use some coconut oil here, too.
  8. Be careful when you remove snow (which you need to be sure to do – at least in a path and area so your dog can go potty). Don’t shovel snow toward the fence-line where your dog may be able to use it as an escape route. Also remove icicles from roof overhangs where your dog may be – when they start to melt, they can fall off and injure your pooch.
  9. Remember, winter brings with it antifreeze drips and puddles in driveways. Antifreeze tastes sweet to dogs but is highly toxic. Dogs will also eat rock salt, which isn’t toxic but can upset their stomachs.
  10. Warm up your dog after a stint outside. Just like you need a cup of coffee or cocoa to warm up, they could use a good rub with a towel or blanket A rice-filled pilled warmed in the microwave and placed in his bed is also a warm treat.

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