Dogs need a little more care over the winter months, so here are our top tips to help them enjoy winter
Your dog will have shed their lighter summer coat, replacing it with a heavier winter one to help keep them warm through winter. You can help maintain this thicker coat with regular brushing, to prevent matting and knotting, and to stop fleas from making a home. Never shave your dog during winter – coats are there for a reason!
Most breeds of dog will grow a suitable coat to protect them from the cold, while other breeds are less hardy. Short-coated breeds like Greyhounds and Chihuahuas, feel the cold and can struggle to cope, so make sure they have a dog coat on when they go outside. Regardless of breed, if your dog starts shivering or seems less enthusiastic about their walkies than usual, get them a canine coat.
During winter make sure you provide your dog with somewhere warm to relax and sleep, that’s free from draughts and damp. If your home is particularly cold, consider buying your dog an electric heat pad to sleep on, or a dog hot water bottle.
Just like us, dogs love to snuggle up to the nearest available heat source when the temperature drops. Burns and scalds can happen quickly so make sure you keep an eye on your dog around heat sources and use a pet proof fireguard in front of open fires, log burners etc. If you use a dog hot water bottle always check it’s well sealed and that there are no leaks.
If your dog has long hair around their feet give it a trim. In cold conditions this will help prevent the hair freezing and painful balls of ice forming between your dog’s pads.
If you are walking on pavements that have been salted or cross roads that have been gritted, wash your pup’s paws when you get home. Salt and grit can irritate their feet, so it needs to be washed away.
Best Foot Forward
Help keep your dog’s paws happy and healthy this winter by applying a thin layer of paw balm or Vaseline before heading out on winter walks, to prevent cracking and discomfort. Once back home, wash your dog’s paws then apply a little more balm to prevent them from drying out – another common winter complaint.
If you find your dog is lifting their paws up on walks, crying or wanting to stop, it’s likely that their feet are just too cold.
Dogs will constantly go from the cold of the outside into the dry heat of your home. This can’t be avoided but can cause itchy, flaky skin. Help prevent this by keeping your home humidified and by towel drying your dog immediately after walks. Always remember the feet, which tend to suffer most over winter.
Don’t bathe your dog over winter unless they really need it. Too much washing can remove essential oils and lead to dry, flaky skin. If you really need to bathe your dog often, speak to your vet about a suitable moisturising shampoo.
With the dark mornings and evenings, it’s likely that most of us with be walking our dogs in dark conditions. Make sure you wear bright or reflective clothing, so that motorists can see you. It’s a great idea to get your dog a high visibility jacket too.
It’s really important that you keep your dog on a lead near frozen water. Better still stay away from frozen ponds and lakes altogether. Should your dog run onto one, do not go on after them. Most dogs are strong swimmers and will be able to get themselves out easier than you can. If they are in trouble call the emergency services.
No Garden Leave
Don’t leave your dog in your garden alone during cold snaps. Most pet dogs spend the majority of their time inside and aren’t used to extreme cold weather and could develop hypothermia or frostbite.
Out Of Bounds
Antifreeze becomes a staple in most motorists’ homes over winter. Unfortunately, it has a sweet smell and taste and dogs are attracted to it – it’s also highly toxic to dogs. Make sure you store yours somewhere your dog can’t access and clear up any spills thoroughly and immediately.
Easy Does It
Of course, dogs don’t want fair-weather owners and where possible want exercising in all weather conditions. You need to use your own judgment on this and stay safe. Take extra care in slippery conditions. If you’re an elderly dog owner it’s very important that you don’t put yourself at risk and walk your dog in potentially hazardous conditions – instead swap walkies for indoor playtime to fend off boredom.
Do you have any winter care tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you!