Winter may not technically be in full swing quite just yet, but it’s quickly approaching and soon everyone will be wearing thick woolly jumpers while drinking a nice cup of dog-friendly vegan soup!
You may not be a fan of all the disruption that comes with winter such as the snow causing roads to come to a standstill, or when the supermarkets run out of hot chocolate! However, there is one love that we can all share despite everything; our dogs playing in the snow!
It’s important to remember that while your out having fun walking your dog in the snow that there are some key things that you will need to do to keep your pooch safe!
Like summer, winter comes with its own risks for dogs that you will have to adapt to for a few months a year to ensure your dog’s safety. Instead of dehydration – which you typically see in summer, hyperthermia would be a lot more common and a bigger worry for the winter months.
We here at RelaxMyDog want to prepare you for anything, whatever the season. So, without further ado, here is how you can prepare your dog for the winter!
Dogs are notorious for being very warm animals – given that they can’t really sweat. This, however, isn’t the case if there is heavy snow outside and if the temperature is well below freezing. While it’s also important that you, yourself makes sure to wear a coat, it’s even more important to keep your pooch warm and wrapped up with a dog coat. You can find these kinds of coats all over the internet for dogs of all shapes and sizes! Dogs with a finer coat – such as a greyhound, are more likely to need a coat than others, so keep that in mind.
Keep them active indoors
It’s entirely possible that your dog may not want to go out into the snow/cold, this could be caused by a whole variety of reasons and is something you should respect. Your dog needs exercise regardless of whether or not you go out, the alternative to going out for their regular walk would be to keep them stimulated and entertained indoors. You can prepare for the hours – maybe even days, of indoor play by stocking up on dog toys, balls, ropes, whatever you will need to keep your dog exercised and fulfilled.
Adjust food portions
Following up from that last point, if your dog is less active – due to not going out for walks, you should adjust their food portions accordingly to ensure they have a diet that matches their exercise. Overfeeding is very harmful to your dog, even more, when they are walking/running less than usual. Each dog is different and eats/digests in different ways than another, so if you’re unsure always consult a vet or even the back of the food bag for reference.
Train on recall
The conditions are known to be foggy and misty during cold temperatures and in these cases, it can be easy to lose sight of your dog. To ensure this doesn’t happen make sure your dog has a good recall before the winter hits. It’s up to you as the owner to train your dog to return on call, at any time. If you don’t get this dealt with, then you may have a lot of issues getting your dog to return when the fog comes.
Stay clear of rivers, lakes, etc
If you don’t know the area that you’re walking in and you are unaware of any lakes or rivers, then tread very carefully. Entire pools of water can be covered with a thin layer of ice and obscured by snow on top. While some dogs may be able to swim, yours might not – and there will be additional factors to make note of; such as the ice-cold water that your dog may be fully emerged in. Make sure to stick to paths and walk very carefully to avoid any cold, wet dogs!
Keep them warm
Make sure to dry off any wet fur and/or paws after a walk. Ensuring that they have a cosy bed to return to will make their life a lot better! If you’re having trouble deciding on which bed to get (i.e. heated beds, orthopaedic beds, etc), then we’ve put together a guide which will help out here and you can read it here! Additionally, when possible, don’t put your dog’s bed anywhere where there is a draft nearby as this would make a very uncomfortable experience for your dog as well as ruling out having a warm, heated bed entirely!
Can they be seen?
You can find dog hi-vis vests and various lights for your dog to keep them visible in situations where it’s potentially hard to see anything. They’re relatively inexpensive and most pet shops have them. If you wanted to go one step further and be extra festive, then you can add some sleigh bells to them and make them more audible!
Take care of their paws
With everything else, it can be easy to lose track of the little details such a snow/ice buildup between your dog’s paws, but you really should keep an eye on this and treat it as an urgent matter after walks. If your dog has long fur between their paws, trim them to ensure that ice doesn’t build up. Also, make sure to wash off their paws after a walk to ensure that any salt or grit is removed. An additional extra would be to buy your dog some boots to add an extra layer of protection keeping their paws and nails protected from snow, ice, grit and anything else that could be potentially dangerous things!