Does your dog love the winter months? Whether your answer is “yes” or “no”, you need to be prepared to protect your furry friend from the cruelties of cold winter days and keep him healthy.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that the coat of fur on your pet’s body will help him tolerate the cold better than you. This is absolutely wrong. Bitter cold, numbing wetness or biting winds can make your dog as uncomfortable as it does you.
In fact, exposure to winter elements can make your pet vulnerable to frostbite or hypothermia and, in some cases, make him severely ill.
Dogs are like babies who need a little extra care during the winter days. Being a responsible dog owner, you need to pay special attention to your pet’s well-being during the winter to ensure that you both enjoy the season to the fullest.
Here are the top 10 tips to keep your dog healthy this winter.
1. Be Sure Your Dog Gets Exercise
Exercise is important for your pet’s health, irrespective of whether it is summer or winter. If your dog prefers to curl up in a cozy corner and sit doing nothing, take steps to get him moving.
A sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for your furry friend. So, throw on a coat or grab an umbrella and take your pet for a walk whenever the weather is okay.
If the weather is not good for a walk, there are plenty of ways to make your dog exercise. For example, a simple game of fetch or hide-and-seek can help your dog get a daily dose of exercise.
You can also create an indoor obstacle course or make your dog run up and down the stairs from time to time.
2. Provide the Right Food
During the winter months, you will have to keep your dog’s diet in mind. The increased calorie requirement to keep the body warm combined with a less active lifestyle can make your pet gain weight quickly. Being overweight is not good for your pet’s health.
For dogs that are active, increase the number of calories you feed them. But if your dog has a tendency to gain weight quickly, opt for low-calorie but healthy foods.
A high-quality, whole foods and preferably raw meat-based diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy during the cold winter months.
In addition, you can consult your vet about giving your dog certain supplements that help with digestion or joint pains that may worsen during the winter months.
3. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Like healthy food, proper hydration is important for your pet, even during the winter months.
In fact, dogs can become dehydrated just as quickly in the winter as they can in the summer. Dehydration can cause dryness as well as impact your pet’s coat health and other health issues.
Even if your dog loves to eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water. So, it is important to keep a good supply of water available to your dog at all times.
If your dog spends time outdoors in your yard, make sure he has access to a water bowl. You must check the water bowl often and break any ice that may form on the top.
4. Offer Winter Wear
If you have puppies at home, bear in mind that they are less cold-tolerant than adult dogs. This is because they have less muscle and fat mass, which play a key role in increasing metabolism and keeping the body warm.
So, to offer protection to puppies, invest in good quality sweaters and jackets. You can get pet winter wear for puppies as well as adult dogs easily in the market. Make them wear winter clothes all the time and especially when going outdoors, even when it is just to do their bathroom duty.
If you are taking your puppy outside for a walk, get him something to wear that has a waterproof nylon cover.
5. Have the Right Bedding
Having the right bedding is very important for your pet’s health, especially during the winter months.
If your pet is sleeping in an outside kennel, there should be a raised and padded bed. This will help prevent cold and dampness from the ground from seeping into the bedding.
If your pet is staying inside, it is important to place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts, cold tile or uncarpeted floors. You can even get a low platform bed made of a light wood or an aluminum frame with canvas stretched over it to keep your pet off the cold floor.
Along with the right bedding, warm blankets are a must to help create a snug environment.
6. Protect Your Dog’s Paws
During the winter months, your dog’s paws or pads can get damaged from exposure to snow, ice, and salt. Hence, during this time, you need to take extra care of your pet’s paws.
After an outing, check the paws thoroughly. Look for little snow or ice balls that may get caught between his toes or in the hair on his paws. If your dog has furry feet, you can trim the hair that grows between his pads to prevent ice from building up in it.
Also, it’s important to wipe off your pet’s paws after a walk with a warm washcloth.
You can even invest in booties to provide some warmth to your dog’s paws. Booties will also protect your dog from harmful chemicals like deicers.