Some parts of the world are already covered with snow and some parts are just starting to feel the coldness creeping in. Regardless of where you live, you should always be prepared to beat the cold weather when it finally settles in your neighborhood. Dogs need special protection since their sensitive ears and paws are always exposed to temperature and weather extremes. Imagine if you had to go outside all winter with bare feet! Things like wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your dog’s body. With the proper precautions, you can make the cold tolerable for your four-legged friends.
1. Keep Track of Your Pet. Winter is the month that most pets are lost. Snowstorms and ice are excellent ways to camouflage where you’ve been and that is especially true for those who use scent as their number one way to maneuver. Dogs are easily lost when they cannot smell where they are going or where they’ve been. Always keep current ID tags on your pets and try to never let them loose during winter months.
2. Keep Your Pet Warm. Please don’t leave your dog outdoors during the winter months. If for some unbelievable reason he is not allowed inside, at least make him a warm spot in the garage or basement. Temperature extremes are lethal for dogs and when left outside during the winter they can easily succumb to hypothermia, shock, predators, and starvation. Water bowls freeze quickly so you need to be willing to refresh them with warm water every hour if left outdoors. Dogs can become embedded with ice and snow which will crack their fragile foot pads and cause bleeding and infection. Outdoor dogs can get salt or antifreeze on their paws and die from poisoning while licking their feet. Keep dogs with short hair especially warm with dog shoes and clothing.
3. Entrapment. Animals that are left outside, whether intentionally or not will seek and need warmth. Never leave a pet in a vehicle during the winter months. Cars are like freezers and quickly lose their heat when turned off, just as easily as they heat up during the summer. Also, cats that are outside often crawl into the undercarriage of warm vehicles and can get trapped in the engine. Bang on the hood loudly before starting your car in the winter to scare any animals out that may be there seeking shelter.
4. Puppies. It’s difficult to housebreak puppies during the winter so be prepared to use puppy pads and indoor techniques if your dog is sensitive to the cold or is resistant to going potty outside. Better to be working on indoor training than not at all.
5. Nourishment. Feed your dog more in the winter if he’s very active outside. He will burn off more calories than normal while trying to maintain his body temperature.