As dog lovers, we all want our precious pups to experience the thrill of bounding through snow and diving into a fluffy white bank at the edge of the driveway. Unfortunately, many owners do not prepare their pets to endure the bitter, biting cold that they are about to experience. While your dog plays, the cold takes it’s toll on his body and it is up to you to keep him comfortable and healthy so that his wintry playtime outdoors is safe and enjoyable.
1. Protect the Paws!
Your dog’s paws are constantly stuck on the cold ground and in snow or gripping ice while outdoors for a romp. Aside from the cold itself, the snow can create balls between his toes and attach to his fur. This causes pain as these balls freeze and pull as his skin. Ice and frozen snow can also cause cuts and scraps on his pads which can lead to infection. Prevent this completely with the use of properly fitted and insulated doggy boots or paw protection wax. Not only will his feet stay warm, but the risk of injury will be eliminated too!
2. Insulate the Body!
While a large number of breeds can easily withstand the cold due to their thick double coats, there are just as many who need another layer of protection that only a waterproof and windproof coat can offer them. These are smooth coated dogs with no undercoat to insulate them naturally. Dogs with wire hair and small dogs may also need the benefits of a warm and durable coat. Make sure the coat repels water, can block wind, and will not trap snow against your canine companion’s skin. Extra help from those that cover sensitive areas such as legs and the belly are greatly appreciated by small dogs with no undercoat.
3. Read Your Dog!
Never let your pooch out of your sight during times outdoors in inclement weather. Keep an eye on him and read his body language so that you know when he has had enough! Slight shivering is normal, but if you can see shivering from a distance it’s time to bring him back inside! If he begins to lift his feet off the ground and hesitating walking much, his feet are becoming painful from the cold and he’s done with the snow for the day. Don’t make your dog stay out longer than is comfortable for him. If he is not comfortable, he’s not having fun!
4. Hay, What?
If you have a breed that prefers the outdoors year round, whether he is working as a livestock guardian or is simply miserable indoors with the rest of the human pack, provide a large pile of hay or stray for bedding. Many people mistakenly give blankets and pillows to the outside dwelling canine thinking it will provide them with comfort. In cold weather, the blankets will trap moisture and freeze solid! There is a lot of heat that can be useful to a dog from hay or straw, and they will take advantage of that!
5. Snow is Not Drinking Water!
Whether your dog is outside for a period of time or just out to play, he must stay hydrated. While snow is a tasty treat, it will not satisfy his body’s needs for hydration and natural minerals that are found in drinking water. Providing a heated water dish so that his water will not freeze is the most effective way of ensuring that he is able to stay hydrated and healthy even when he is bounding through the snow. Keeping your dog safe and healthy during wintry weather is really an easy chore to prevent injury and illness during a fun play session outdoors. With your protection and ability to be proactive in his health and comfort, his time in the snow will most surely be comfortable, safe, and have a snowy good time!