If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog! Here’s how to ensure he stays safe and warm during the bitter months of winter.
Winter is the season of fluffy snow and crisp, refreshing air. But it’s also the time of year when frostbite and hypothermia pose a serious risk to you and your dog! Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the splendor of the season while keeping these dangers at bay.
1. Limit the time he spends outdoors
Just like us, pets can fall victim to frostbite. To prevent this painful injury, don’t let your pup stay outside for more than a few minutes, especially if the temperature dips below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. (-7 degrees Celsius). Even if your dog is conditioned for cold weather, it’s best to save those long walks for warmer days.
2. Clear a path for him in the yard
If the snow is deep, shoveling a small path and space in the backyard will make his potty breaks much more comfortable. These clearings will also prevent him from getting balls of ice and snow in between his paw pads, which can be painful!
3. Keep him leashed
Winter poses many hazards that can bring harm to an unleashed dog. Frozen ponds, for instance, might not be frozen enough to support your pup if he decides to wander onto the ice. Avalanches are another very real threat in some locations. Plus, if his nose gets the best of him, he could become lost – a tragedy you don’t want to experience any time of year, let alone when the temperatures are below freezing.
4. Feed him warming foods
According to ancient Chinese Medicine, certain meats, grains, vegetables, herbs and other foodstuffs have a warming effect on the body. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your pup’s daily meals to help warm him from the inside out, and switch his primary protein source to a warming meat, such as lamb, venison or chicken. Heating his food (just enough to take the chill off it) can also be a welcome treat during the winter months.
Note: Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you should feed your dog more food! In fact, it’s recommended that you decrease his caloric intake during the winter if his activity level is lower than usual. Talk to your vet to figure out how to portion his meals for each season.
5. Buy him winter gear
Some dogs, especially smaller breeds, benefit from wearing an extra layer when venturing outdoors in cold weather. A sweater or jacket will help prevent his body heat from escaping, and boots will protect his paws from ice, snow and salt, all which can have damaging effects.
6. Don’t leave him in the vehicle
Just like you shouldn’t leave pets unattended in hot cars during the summertime, you should never leave them alone in cold vehicles in the winter! Dogs have built-in fur coats, but that doesn’t mean they can withstand the cold for much longer than you can. Try sitting in a car with the engine off in nothing but a thin coat – you might be protected from the wind, but the inside of the vehicle will plummet to an intolerable temperature within minutes!
7. Never leave him out at night
This comes back to the first point. Day or night, your dog shouldn’t be left alone outdoors in the cold for a prolonged period of time. Even if he has access to food, water and shelter, the sub-zero outdoor temperatures that many states and provinces experience are no place for a companion animal to sleep. If your pet can’t come in the house (for whatever reason), make sure he has a proper, heated shelter with four solid walls and warm, dry bedding.
Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog!