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Caring for Your Dog During Winter

Winter has arrived and the snow is building up outside. While it is fun to watch your adorable dog run, jump and play in the beautiful white snow, it can also have a negative impact on his or her health. Dog owners are presented with the challenge of providing their dog with a safe winter every year. Caring for your dog during winter doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The following details will help you get through winter with a happy, healthy and safe dog.

Indoor Conditions

Keep your dog indoors during cold weather. Provide him or her with a warm bed that will keep them comfortable throughout the entire season. If you feel cold indoors than your dog will feel the same way. Keep the temperature warm and toasty as much as possible.

Canine Winter Wardrobe

Prepare ahead of time for the winter season by purchasing a winter wardrobe for your dog. This may sound surprising to some pet parents, but it is essential to keeping your dog safe during winter. You will want to purchase items such as a doggie sweater, coat, rain coat and boots. These items will get your dog through the entire season comfortably. While you may think it is unusual to cloth your dog, it is actually highly beneficial. The clothing protects them from the cold weather, wet conditions as well as keeps them warm. The boots may seem a bit over the top but they are necessary since they protect your dog’s paws from frostbite as well as exposure to salt and chemicals used during the season.

Dog Grooming for Winter

This is the time of year that you will want to let your dog’s hair grow out. This provides them a natural layer of protection that will help keep them warm and protect their skin from the elements. You will want to focus more on keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, ears clean, teeth brushed and paws protected. One of the most common winter ailments are cracked paw pads. Inspect your dog’s paws frequently for irritation. Your dog will also give you a sign such as chewing and licking their paws due to the discomfort. If this condition arises, use a special balm that is created just for dogs and rub it on his or her paws. This will heal and protect the paws throughout the winter season.

Winter Related Health Conditions

Long time exposure to cold elements can cause health conditions to arise. Puppies, senior dogs and those with health issues can become sensitive to cold weather and harsh conditions. Keep your eye for the following winter related health conditions and symptoms in your dog.

  • Frostbite – Your dog can develop frostbite on his or her feet, tail, ears and skin. Symptoms of canine frostbite are blisters, swelling and discolored skin that may appear to have a gray, red or pale tone. Inspect your dog’s skin and entire body for these symptoms. If you detect signs of frostbite in your dog seek veterinarian assistance immediately.
  • Hypothermia – This condition develops when your dog has been exposed to cold, harsh winter elements for an extended period of time. Signs of Hypothermia in dogs include shallow breathing, shivering, weak pulse and your dog appearing lethargic.

Remember that if you are cold indoors or outdoors, so is your dog. Make sure you keep your dog close by during the winter months and provide him or her with a winter wardrobe. Also protect your dog from popular ice-melters by wiping your dog down with a warm cloth after a walk outdoors. Limit your dog’s exposure to the elements and keep him or her warm and happy until the warm weather comes back!

Photo credit: Allison Stillwell Young/Flickr

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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.