How to Keep Your Dog Healthy in Winter: 12 Essential Tips

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Updated on: Apr 28, 2023
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How to Keep Your Dog Healthy in Winter: 12 Essential Tips

Hey there, folks! 

Did you know that the winter months can be a challenging time for our furry companions? 

Yes, that is true!

Here are 12 things you can do to help your dog stay warm throughout winter!

Keep your dog indoors. 

Did you know that hypothermia, frostbite, and respiratory issues are just a few conditions dogs can experience in harsh winter conditions?

To avoid this scenario, keep your dog inside the house to ensure they are safe and well during the winter months. The cold weather, snow, rain, and wind can adversely affect your dogs, especially those not used to the low temperatures. 

The inside of your home can provide your dog with a controlled and warm environment for it to rest, play and sleep without being exposed to the elements.

Additionally, before bringing them inside, you should dog-proof your home to ensure their safety while indoors, especially since they have the habit of wandering and touching things that can be dangerous. 

Let your dog sleep in a comfortable area of the house.

During winter, a comfortable place to sleep is a big help because dogs may struggle to regulate their body temperature in cold weather. 

Here’s how to create a cozy sleeping area for your furry friend:

  1. Bed: Choose a comfortable, spacious bed of soft, durable materials. Consider a raised bed that will keep your dog off the cold floor.
  2. Blankets: Add extra blankets to your dog's bed to provide warmth and comfort. 
  3. Heated pad: If your dog has difficulty staying warm, consider purchasing a heated pad to provide a constant source of warmth and help regulate your dog's body temperature.
  4. Location: Select a spot for your dog's bed away from drafty areas near windows or doors and near a safe heat source, such as a fireplace or heater.
  5. Cleanliness: Regularly clean your dog's bed and bedding to keep it fresh.

Protect your dog's paws.

Protecting your furry friend's paws during the winter is essential to keep them from getting frostbite and other injuries from icy surfaces.

Here’s how to protect your dog's paws during the colder months:

  1. Paw Booties: Get them to protect your dog’s paws from the cold, ice, and salt. Make sure the booties fit well and are comfortable for your dog.
  2. Paw balm: Apply a paw balm or protective wax to your dog's paws before going outside. This can help safeguard their paws from the elements and keep them from getting dry and cracked.
  3. Wipe their paws: After going outside, wipe your dog's paws with a damp cloth to remove any ice, snow, or salt. This can help prevent irritation and inflammation.
  4. Trim their nails: Trimming your dog's nails can prevent them from slipping on ice or getting stuck in the snow.
  5. Avoid icy surfaces: Avoid walking your dog on icy surfaces, especially if they are prone to slipping. Stick to clear sidewalks and roads whenever possible.

Limit your dog's exposure to salt and other de-icing chemicals.

Winter can be tough for dogs, especially with the salt and other de-icing chemicals that melt snow and ice. Limit your dog's exposure to these chemicals and keep them safe and comfortable.

First, try to avoid walking your dog in areas that have been salted, like sidewalks or roads. Second, if you can't avoid these areas, keep your dog on a short leash and follow the steps above to protect its paws.  

If you notice any severe signs that they have ingested those chemicals, contact your veterinarian immediately. This could include: 

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • or excessive thirst.

Give your dog enough food and water.

Ensuring they're well-fed and hydrated when caring for our furry friends during the winter is vital

Here’s how to  keep your dog healthy and happy during the colder months:

  1. Increase food intake: Dogs burn more calories in cold weather to stay warm, so it's essential to ensure they get enough food. 
  2. Provide fresh water: Give your dog access to fresh, clean water. Be sure to check their bowl often to make sure it hasn't frozen or become dirty.
  3. Offer warm food and water: Just like us, dogs can benefit from warm food and water on chilly days. One of warming their water is by adding a little hot water to their bowl or warming up their food in the microwave for a few seconds.
  4. Use a heated water bowl: If your dog's water bowl tends to freeze, try using it to keep their water from freezing.
  5. Monitor their hydration: Keep an eye on how much water your dog drinks. Talk to your vet if you notice that they're not drinking enough.

Avoid leaving your dog inside a car.

Leaving your furry friend in a car during winter is definitely a no-no because it can be very risky for their health.

Leaving your dog in a car for extended periods can increase the risk of such mentioned health issues as hypothermia and frostbite.

Next, without access to water, your dog can quickly become dehydrated. Stale air inside the vehicle can quickly deplete the oxygen supply, making breathing difficult for your dog, and can lead to suffocation

In case you really have to leave them in the car for a very short while, ensure the car is well-insulated.  Give your dog access to water and warm blankets while inside. And never leave your dog in a car parked overnight. 

Consider getting your dog a winter coat or sweater.

A winter coat or sweater can help keep your dog cozy during the colder months.  Here’s how to  help choose the right coat or sweater for your furry friend:

  1. Size. You should ensure your chosen coat or sweater fits well and doesn't rub or chafe. Too tight or too loose could lead to discomfort or even cause them to trip.
  2. Material. Fleece and wool are great options as they are warm, durable, and easy to clean. Consider a coat or sweater with reflective material to help keep your dog visible during nighttime walks.
  3. Design. Ensure the coat or sweater covers your dog's chest, back, and belly, as these are the most sensitive areas to the cold. A high collar or hood can also provide extra protection, especially during windy days. For dogs with long necks, a turtleneck sweater can provide additional warmth.

Keep your dog's coat well-groomed and free of mats and tangles.

Matting and tangles in your dog’s coat can trap cold air and moisture close to your dog's skin. This means that the more matting, the more difficult for them to keep warm, leading to possible hypothermia and other health problems. 

How to avoid matting? 

By regular grooming, of course!

It also helps distribute natural oils throughout their coat, keeping them hydrated and healthy. This is particularly important in winter when dry skin is more susceptible to cold weather damage.

Monitor your dog for signs of hypothermia.

Monitor your dog for signs of hypothermia as the temperature drops, especially if they spend lots of time outside. If your dogs have hypothermia, move them to a warm, dry place and cover them with blankets or towels. 

Here are some signs to look  out for:

  1. shivering
  2. lethargy
  3. difficulty walking
  4. pale gums
  5. slow heart rate
  6. and shallow breathing.

Exercise your dog during the warmest part of the day.

Exercising is crucial for their physical and mental well-being, but you must be cautious of the temperature and weather conditions during winter. 

Here are some tips to ensure you exercise your dog safely during the winter:

  1. Pick the warmest part of the day.
  2. Limit outdoor exercise time.
  3. Think of indoor exercise alternatives like games.
  4. Get your dog the proper attire.
  5. Always monitor your dog's behavior and body language while exercising.

If they appear cold, tired, or uncomfortable, take a break and bring them inside to warm up. 

Keep your dog's vaccinations up to date.

It's essential to ensure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, but it's especially vital during the winter months. 

Here are some essential things to remember:

  1. Kennel cough: To protect your pup from kennel cough, ensure they're up to date on their bordetella vaccine.
  2. Canine influenza is another respiratory infection that tends to be more prevalent during the colder months. 
  3. Core vaccinations: This includes rabies, distemper, and parvovirus

Also, you may include washing your dog's bedding, avoiding shared water bowls, and keeping your dog away from other dogs who may be sick to ensure their safety. 

Consider installing a doggy door to allow your dog to come inside when they need to warm up.

Installing a dog door can be a great way to give your furry friend access to warmth and shelter whenever needed. 

Here’s how to use a doggy door:

  1. Pick the right size. It should be big enough for them to fit through quickly but not so big that it makes your home drafty or inefficient.
  2. Location is key: Choose a spot for the dog door that's out of the wind and weather and leads to a warm and dry area inside your home.
  3. Check the rules: Some areas have regulations on installing dog doors, so check to ensure you follow any rules or restrictions.
  4. Teach your dog: After the dog door is in, it's time to teach your dog how to use it. 

Ensure the dog door is installed correctly and can be locked or closed when you're not around for an extended period or when your dog sleeps at night to keep your dog safe. 

Ultimately, it's important to remember that your veterinarian is essential to your dog's healthcare team. These 12 tips help keep your furry friend healthy and happy during the colder months. From providing a warm place to sleep to monitoring signs of hypothermia, these small but necessary steps can make a big difference in your dog's overall well-being!

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