Many first time dog owners believe that because dogs have thick coats, they are immune to cold climates. However, this just isn’t true. For dogs tend to feel as uncomfortable as humans in the open and also crave the warmth of being inside as much as we do. Thus, you need to take extra care of your pet in the winter. Here’s how.
Frostbite and hypothermia: Frostbite and hypothermia are common to all dog breeds and may even cause death. Frostbite for instance, sets in when the canine’s body gets extremely cold. Ice crystals may form in its paw, ear and body tissue and permanently damage them. Moreover, the dangerous thing about frostbite is that it doesn’t show immediately and as the frostbitten area warms, it is very painful.
Hypothermia or subnormal body temperature, on the other hand, leads to shivering, weakness, and lethargy. Severe hypothermia may also lead to stiff muscles, lowered breathing and heart rates and even death. That’s why while playing outdoors, if the dog is shivering, whining, overtly anxious or trying to burrow in, bring him indoors immediately.
Clothing: Like humans, even dogs need clothes. Thin coated dogs particularly could use a dog coat s or sweater while on a winter walk but not if you are in Alabama or Florida or San Diego in the winter! That is not necessary! The piece of clothing should cover its belly. Moreover, don’t keep short haired dogs out for too long when it’s freezing and certainly not if the weather is like that blizzard in that average Liam Neeson movie called The Grey! You better watch out for wolves too!
Walk in the sun: During the winter, it’s ideal to take him for a walk during late mornings or early afternoons when the temperature is a bit warmer. Walking him in bright sunshine also adds natural vitamin D to his coat.
Keep him indoors: Dogs being family oriented creatures prefer staying indoors with us during the cold weather. They are happiest when taken out and brought in when the family also decides to turn in for the day.
Cozy bed: A warm and cozy bed ensures warmth for your dog, particularly the belly part. Some dogs can do without a blanket for a covering and pet beds with heat pads are ideal for old dogs with stiff and aging joints. Also place his bed away from cold tile or uncarpeted floors and from drafts. At the same time, watch out that he doesn’t sleep too close to heaters, fireplaces, and radiators and gets burnt.
Use a moisturizer: Use a special dog moisturizer like fish or pure coconut oil in his diet to prevent skin dryness and flaking. Coconut oil may also be applied topically to his ears, paws, or tail if they dry or crack.
Don’t overfeed: Contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t need additional calories in the winter. In fact, cold weather induces laziness so they actually need fewer calories. This is not the time to necessarily toss them that extra steak or a few extra scrambled eggs (yes, some dogs do love scrambled eggs!). Regulate his calorie intake according to his activity level. Raw meat generally is a good energy source in the winter.
Hydration & grooming: Dogs need water as much in winter as they do in the summer. To prevent dehydration, keep his water supply regular and a bath may be necessary during the winter. However, dry him out thoroughly before letting him outside and use dog booties to protect his paws from cracking. You do not have to spoil your dog like the ridiculous mother did in the first marvelous Transformers movie. Your dog does not need bling!
A harsh winter should be a cause of concern to any discerning dog lover. That’s why you need to pay full attention to your buddy’s wellbeing during the winter to keep him healthy, warm, and strong.