The nights are getting longer, the air is crisper and the weather has certainly got colder, which can only mean that winter is on its way.
Will you will be cozied up indoors? Or perhaps out exploring the winter landscapes? Whatever your plans this winter, one thing remains certain: it’s a time when our beloved pets need a little extra care.
Paying special attention to your dog’s wellbeing during winter will ensure that you both enjoy the season to the fullest.
Here are some measures you can take to ensure your faithful, four-legged friend stays happy and healthy and enjoys everything this season has to offer!
In case your dog does run into any unfavorable winter side effects, always be sure to consult your veterinarian.
Daylight and Temperature
As the nights draw in earlier and the sun rises later, try to walk your dog in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer. We can all benefit from a little sunshine (it also brings the added benefit of providing both you and your pet with all important vitamin D). If you can’t get out during the daylight, 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.
Tip: Dogs that live indoors will need some time to acclimatize to freezing temperatures. Short romps outside will help your dog’s body get used to the change in the weather. A good rule is to go out with your dog and when you’re ready to come in, they probably will be too.
Consider your dog’s coat
Like us, dogs are used to the warmth of indoor shelter and the cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on us humans!
Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in very cold temperatures (some heavy-coated northern breeds thrive in low temperatures!)
Sure, most dogs have their own coat, but you wouldn’t want to go out in a blizzard in a light spring jacket! An appropriate winter wardrobe is vital to ensure your dog stays warm on walks. So make sure that small, delicate, and short-haired dogs have a sweater or a coat.
Remember, even the furriest dogs can get cold! Regardless of what breed, if your dog starts shivering or seems less enthusiastic about their walkies than usual, get them a canine coat.
Tip: If you are investing in a dog coat or sweater, go for good quality with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
Even with a sweater or a cozy coat, don’t keep your dog out too long in freezing temperatures. Remember that ears, paws and tails are all susceptible to frostbite (especially on delicate earflaps and tail tips).
In addition to monitoring your dog’s time outdoors on cold days, ensure your dog is warm and comfortable indoors. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm. If your home has cold tiles or uncarpeted floors, consider a raised bed. Create a snug environment by providing your dog with a warm blanket to snuggle up to. You can also place your dog’s bed in a warm spot, away from drafts. Of course, there’s always the option for extra cuddles to share the warmth too!
Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat so please make sure you have a pet proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harm’s way!
Tip: Whilst scented candles and room diffusers create a cozy atmosphere, they can cause irritation to a dog’s skin, so think about how frequently you are using these.
It’s no secret that the winter months can wreak havoc on our skin and the same goes for our four-legged friends. Without the appropriate care during these wintry conditions, your dog’s skin and coat can suffer and skin conditions can even develop.
Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep them properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors.
One of the typical conditions that occur as a result of a change in environmental conditions is dandruff. Unfortunately, this problem tends to be more prevalent in the winter and especially for dogs that have sensitive skin. PET CARE Sciences Oatmeal and Aloe Dog Shampoo is ideal for sensitive skin. By using this shampoo, you will avoid stripping the skin’s natural oils or causing chemical irritation. Oatmeal has been a long held and common remedy for soothing sensitive, itchy skin. Oatmeal and Aloe shampoo will replenish skin’s moisture balance and will aid dry and brittle coats. Gently relieving sensitive skin, the gentle sulphate-free formula is ideal for pets with seasonal allergies.
Winter is also when many of us start putting the heating on, which can be very drying for the coat. Finishing a bath with a gentle moisturizer will protect your dog’s fur and coat from the atmospheric changes and will help maintain its lusciousness throughout the season. PET CARE Sciences Moisturizing Conditioner is designed to soothe and cherish the skin and ease out knots and will reveal soft, shiny, hydrated coats.
After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly, especially before allowing them outside.
The thicker and longer the dog’s coat, the more likely it is to get matted in the wind and rain and the longer your dog is going to stay cold and wet for. You can help maintain thicker coats with regular brushing, to prevent matting and knotting, and to stop fleas from making a home.
If your dog is long-haired or has furry feet, simply trim their fur to minimize any clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry their skin, and don’t neglect the hair between the toes. Carefully trim the fur that grows between the toes to prevent ice build-up between the pads.
Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads.
Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws. If you find your pet’s paws are dry or cracking, we recommend you apply Paw Wax. Paw Wax is a natural, gentle balm that can help keep your pet’s paw pads and snout moisturized and protected. Massaging Paw Wax or into paw pads before going outside can provide protection against harsh weather conditions, as well as salt and chemical agents.
Dry skin and lackluster coats aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. City streets are coated with de-icing substances, such as sodium chloride (rock salt) and calcium chloride, which make sidewalks safe for pedestrians, but can be dangerous to dogs. Dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas—often when licking it from their paws after a walk. This is because ingestion can cause a high blood sodium concentration which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases kidney damage. Treated ground can cause sensitives and burn the skin on a dog’s paws. If you can’t avoid walking on these substances, be sure to always wipe your dog’s paws after walks.
Tip: Some people keep a bucket next to the door to rinse their dog’s feet as soon as they come in from the cold. Use warm water and make sure to reach spots between the toes and pads.
With winter comes antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet and dogs (as well as some children!) will readily lick or drink it. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amount can be fatal. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where they may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals, wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family.
Special care for seniors
Where climate is concerned, age is more than a number. Very old and very young dogs can struggle to regulate body temperature, so they have more extreme reactions to changes in weather.
Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter. Just like people, dogs are more susceptible to other illnesses during winter weather.
Tip: Colder seasons usually result in the ground becoming compacted and harder to walk on. When the ground is frozen solid, it creates more of an impact on your dog’s paws, as well as their bones and joints. However, there’s no reason why with PET CARE Sciences Paw Wax your dog shouldn’t enjoy those crisp, cold morning walks as much as you do!