Top Winter Safety Tips for Dogs
From dog grooming to paw care tips, discover how you can keep your pup safe from harsh winter weather./
Jack Frost doesn’t only nip at your nose—your pup is also at risk! Keep your dog protected during winter play this year with these helpful tips and tricks.
Yes, your dog has a natural coat of sorts, but sometimes that just doesn’t cut it on those harsh winter days. Large dogs with thick coats such as our double-coated friends from the North (e.g., Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes) do better in cold weather, whereas other breeds need some help in the warmth department.
Dogs low to the ground, toy breeds, senior dogs and short-haired breeds should all wear a winter coat outdoors. If your dog falls into one of these categories, make sure the coat fully covers their back and neck. While you want the coat to fit snugly, Fido should still be able to move freely. We suggest finding a water-repellent coat with reflective trim so it’s easy to spot your pup at night.
Does your pup eat outside in the colder months? Trade in their metal bowl for plastic or ceramic otherwise your pup might accidentally pull a Flick a la A Christmas Story. In other words: Their tongue could get stuck to the bowl. Yeesh! If your pup is properly bundled, you shouldn’t have to worry about hypothermia. However, if your dog is shivering or shaking, take them inside immediately.
PROTECT THOSE PAWS
Ice, snow, antifreeze and road salt are your dog’s worst winter enemies. The cold surfaces dry out your pup’s paws while road salt and antifreeze contain harsh chemicals that can be toxic. (FYI: Most antifreeze is green ethylene glycol, but it comes in different colors. Just be aware of where and what your dog is sniffing.) However, it’s fairly easy to protect your pup’s paws from these winter nasties.
Have you ever seen anything cuter than a dog in booties? (No. The answer is no.) These booties aren’t just adorable paw-wear, they also help keep paws warm in freezing temperatures. Look for weatherproof booties with a rubber sole since these will help your dog gain traction on those icy days.
If your dog doesn’t take to booties, there are balms you can apply to your dog’s paw pads and between their toes to act as a shield from snow and ice. Many of these balms are made from all-natural wax and can also protect paws from blistering during hotter months. Check out how to make your own protectant balm here.
After taking your dog out, wash and dry your dog’s paws and stomach to remove ice balls and chemicals from road salt. You can even keep a towel and bucket of warm water by the door for easy rinsing!
FIGHT THE DRYNESS
To keep your dog’s coat and skin feeling (and looking) 100%, brush your pup often. Just like our skin tends to dry out in colder weather, the same goes for dogs!
If your dog sheds, that hair can build up and cause itchy dandruff. Give them a good brushing daily to not only pick up dirt and get rid of dead skin, but to also help stimulate their oil glands and restore their coat back to optimal shininess. When brushing, rub your pup’s coat in a circular pattern to remove loose hair and whatever else they picked up outside. Begin with a coarser brush, then follow up with a softer brush and a final towel rub-down.
During extreme coldness, you should bathe your dog as little as possible! Too much washing can strip your dog’s coat of essential oils they need to fight dryness. If you do bathe your pup during this time of year, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo. You can also help stop the itch and add moisture to your dog’s skin by incorporating fish oil into their diet and keeping them hydrated.
TREAT FOR FLEAS & TICKS
The colder the weather, the less active fleas and ticks are. However, even though the weather has dipped, these pests are still lurking in your lawn! The main problem is that these little guys aren’t too fond of the cold and can latch onto Fido to enter the warm house. Once inside, they can then feed and breed on your dog and their bedding, causing an infestation issue.
Luckily, it’s easy to prevent this! Our BarkYard experts and veterinarians recommend year-round flea treatments for your dog. To learn more about these pests, including how to prevent and remove them, take a peek at our other article here.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, there’s one last thing we just have to mention: Beware of yellow snow.