Most dogs love to romp in the snow and enjoy the chilly winter weather even when their pet parents would rather stay in the warm house, but there are tips you can follow to make sure your pets stay safe through the winter.
- Most importantly if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pet. While some dogs have a thick coat of fur, they still feel the cold. Less hairy dogs like Boxers and Beagles will feel the cold even more intensely. A waterproof coat or cuddly sweater helps keep them warmer but on very cold days time outside should still be limited.
- Protecting your pet’s paws: In the winter your pet’s feet face the double hazard of cold, ice, and snow, and chemical burns from ice melting agents. For your own sidewalks and driveway, always use a certified pet safe ice melt. Standard salts and melters include ingredients that are either caustic (can cause chemical burns) or are poisonous if your pet licks his feet. Dog booties can prevent the winter weather and the salt from hurting your dog’s pads, but some dogs refuse to wear them. An alternative would be a product like Musher’s Secret, a waxy salve originally made for sled dogs that coats the pads and prevents damage. Petroleum jelly also works in a pinch. Make sure to wipe off your dog’s pads after he comes inside.
- Grooming can affect your pet’s comfort and safety in the winter as well. It is better not to shave your pet’s coat in the winter since it serves a purpose protecting their skin and keeping them warmer. However it is very important that your pet’s coat is properly maintained and brushed regularly to avoid matting – thick tangles. Matting negates the protection the coat provides and can actually cause injury and irritation to the skin beneath. Playing in the snow can cause matting very quickly, so make sure he is brushed out after a romp.
- Anti-freeze is a dangerous chemical, and it smells very delicious to pets. Watch for any suspicious leaks or puddles in the street and driveways and keep your pets away.
But with that said…
Enjoy the weather! While certain precautions are necessary in the winter, it is important that your dog gets plenty of exercise and fun to prevent him from getting bored, depressed, and possibly badly behaved. Bundle up and keep play session short, but have fun playing with your dog!