As you prepare for low temperatures, winds, ice, snow and whatever, it is vital that you think about what you can do to make your dog’s winter that little bit better.
Is your dog crate warm?
OK, we know if it’s a dog cage or crate made from wire mesh that may seem a bit of a daft question, but think about it – is your crate in a draught? Is it too near a fire or electric heater – or too far away?
There is lots that can go wrong, so safety first is always good. Keep fires screened and electric wires away from your dog’s reach. Think about a crate cover and warm bedding such as a self-warming Vetbed to help with the warmth. A purpose-made dog crate cover can be used with one, two or more sides down to shelter from draughts, whilst allowing the dog crate to be left with an open door for ease of entry. A little planning can make such a difference.
Dog food – what is needed?
Is your dog very active with lots of outdoor runs and walks? If so it will certainly need more calories to combat the cold, give energy and maintain healthy body weight.
Alternatively, if your dog prefers the life of luxury with as little running about in the cold as possible, then fewer calories will be needed.
In either case, it is important that the food is right and it is always wise to consider natural dog food. Here we have reviewed several options so check them out and choose your best winter food, whether wet or dry. If in doubt, then have a chat with your vet who will be pleased to help.
Stock up on food and medication in case it gets too dangerous to venture out. Always have a supply of fresh water available – even when outside.
Have you thought about a dog coat or boots?
We all feel the cold, and your dog is no different even if it has a wonderfully thick coat. It may benefit from a dog coat which will keep the warmth in. Think also about the dark nights and bad visibility and choose one with reflective safety strips.
Have a chat with your groomer to see if any special preparation of their actual furry coat is necessary. Dog breeds with a history of surviving in the cold may not need too much special grooming, but thinner coated breeds may need the dog coat.
Think also about paws, and whether it is necessary to get some doggy boots. If your dog keeps lifting its paws or is reluctant to walk, or generally complains, it may be that the paws are too cold. Sharp ice can cut paw pads, so always check your dog’s paws after a snowy or icy walk.
Ask your groomer if your dog would benefit from extra grooming attention around the paws as long hair here can easily act as a trap for ice and snow. Check for redness, scratches or other soft tissue damage, remembering that there may well be antifreeze, salt or an array of chemicals which can be detrimental to your dog’s health, so if you walk on salted pavements, wash your dog’s paws when you get in to prevent irritation.
When you are out and about
Stay well away from frozen ponds, lakes and rivers. If you do have to go near them, keep your dog on a lead, because if they do go onto the ice, you may find it really tempting to go after them. DON’T! Most dogs are strong swimmers, and stand more chance in water than you do.
Remember that snow can cover up potholes and other hazards, so be especially aware.
Be careful in icy or slippery conditions – especially on steps, pavement edges or slopes. If you find it difficult walking in ice or strong winds – keep indoors and exercise your dog with lively indoor games.
When you do go out, both you and your dog should wear bright reflective clothing – see dog coats above.
And when you have done all of that – enjoy your winter together!