Cold weather worries for your dog

by | General Pet Care |

Sponsored by Royal Canin

There seem to be two types of dogs: those that see the first few flakes of snow and decide that the sofa is a good spot to sleep away winter, and those that can’t wait for that fun white stuff to come so they can go bounding and rolling around in it. No matter what type of dog you have (or maybe you have both types!), it’s important to remember that winter comes with specific risks and safety concerns. It is up to us, the caregivers, to ensure that our canine companions have everything they need to stay safe this winter! 

Bundle Up! 

Just like us, some dogs need their winter coat and booties on to go outside. This can be especially important for dogs with short coats, younger or older dogs, and those with certain diseases and conditions that can affect their ability to regulate their temperature. Make sure the coat is dry (wet coats can make an animal feel more chilled) and the boots are properly fitted (no one likes pinched toes!). 

Careful on the Ice 

Ice can pose a problem for many reasons. Dogs who are playing or walking on slippery ice can slip and hurt themselves. They can also fall through ice covering deeper bodies of water. Be sure to keep to areas that you know are safe, and consider leash walks to help control dogs who may be excited about playing in the snow. 

Check the car  

All anti-freeze, even the so-called “non-toxic” antifreeze, is toxic to animals. Check underneath cars for antifreeze spills, and clean these carefully and promptly. It’s also important to remember that dogs should not be left in the vehicle, even during the winter. While it may be warm and cozy with the heat on, temperatures can drop rapidly once the car has been turned off. 

Feed appropriately 

In the winter, a significant portion of your dog’s caloric intake can be directed towards keeping it warm. In animals spending a large amount of time outside, it may be required to increase the amount of food being fed. Consider speaking to your veterinarian if you feel your dog may require additional calories or nutrients. However, in animals spending larger amounts of times inside and going on less frequent walks, it is a good idea to watch your furry friend’s weight closely. Dogs who spend less time on walks and at dog parks once the weather turns cold often gain weight over the winter months. This is often due to decreased exercise, and increased treats, as caregivers look for other ways to keep their furry friends occupied. Make sure that treats are kept to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Consider offering your dog a portion of their daily food as treat rewards to keep those calories in check. 

Stay active 

If the weather really is too cold to go outside, consider alternative ways to exercise your dog. Does your area have an indoor park you could take your dog to? Can you set up some agility equipment in your basement or garage? Spending some time every day playing inside or having a training session are great ways to keep your furry friend busy. You can also consider using puzzle feeders. These provide both mental stimulation and physical activity.  

Always be careful with your animals during the winter. Ensure they are kept safe and healthy, and that they have all necessary resources. If your dog does encounter some cold-weather concerns, be sure to seek out veterinary assistance. Your veterinary team can diagnose medical conditions that may need to be treated, and can help you manage your furry friend’s individual needs.