Your dog is your best friend, as the saying goes. Wintertime presents its own set of challenges for keeping your pup healthy and happy. It’s important to tailor your pup’s care to the different seasons so you guys can enjoy the snow — and the snuggles — that come with all that cold weather.
Get Your Home Winter Ready
Between Christmas tree decorations, poinsettias, and all that holiday food, your home can become a danger zone for pets. Make sure to keep winter changes in mind when planning for your pet’s safety and comfort.
- Watch out for holiday hazards. A lot of holiday foods are bad for your dog, like onion, garlic, nutmeg, grapes, and, of course, chocolate. Make sure your decorations are dog friendly; you might want to take a pass on tinsel or glass ornaments. Poinsettias are toxic to dogs, so you might want to skip that holiday tradition.
- Keep the kennel warm and dry. You might want to add blankets to the kennel if it’s in an area of the home that’s cold or prone to drafts.
- Watch your dog carefully when he goes outside. Snow can hide a lot of things, including stuff you might not want your dog to get into. Another danger of long bathroom breaks in the yard? Hypothermia. Not all dogs are built for cold the way huskies are, and some can get hypothermia a lot faster than others, especially the little guys. Look for shivering or burrowing. Make sure that they have adequate outdoor shelter if you leave them outside for an extended period of time. If in doubt, bring them back inside.
- Winterize your home. Track down the source of those drafts to protect your pup from chills — and yourself from too-high heating bills. Keep your pipes protected from freezing and bursting. Make sure to inspect and maintain your fireplace. Not only does a properly maintained fireplace heat your home better, it’s safer.
- Keep your animals safe from heating sources. As the weather gets colder, they might seek out warmth wherever they can find it. If you have space heaters or fireplaces, be sure to guard them so your dog can’t get burned trying to get warm.
- When you stock your winter emergency supplies for potential power outages or snowstorms, be sure to keep your pup in mind. Include him in your water stockpile calculations. Keep dog-friendly food around.
The weather outside might be frightful, but walks are still delightful. Here are some safety tips for keeping your walks a happy time for your pup:
- Be careful walking near roads. Pedestrian traffic accidents are remarkably common. This is especially true in the winter, when ice and snow makes for poor driving conditions.
- Protect those paws! Snow is harsh on little paws, and so are salt and chemicals used to keep sidewalks and roads de-iced. Wipe down your dog’s paws after coming inside to keep them from getting agitated (and to keep your dog from licking the salt and chemicals off their paws). Make sure to treat your dog’s paws with a balm or put boots on them for walks.
- Winter coats aren’t just for people. Dogs not built for colder climates can benefit from a warm jacket or sweater on outings.
- Keep an eye out for antifreeze in parking lots or under your car. Antifreeze is toxic to dogs, and colder weather means more spills and puddles lying around.
Some Definite Don’ts
- Don’t leave them in the car. Cold weather can be harsh, and carbon monoxide is a real problem in the wintertime.
- Don’t neglect exercise. Winter might be a good time for hibernating, but your dog still needs regular exercise.
- Don’t overfeed. It might be tempting to feed your dog more than normal to help them keep warm, but overfeeding is always bad.
- Don’t forget the flea and tick treatment. It might happen a lot less than in the warmer months, but bugs are still a problem.
- Don’t forget the snuggles. Winter is a great time to cozy up to your pup and let him know just how much you love him.