With the temperatures currently plummeting and snow falling in many parts of the UK, I thought it might be a good time to talk about winter dog care. Some of these tips might seem obvious and some might be new to you. I also welcome any tips you may have by leaving a comment at the end of this article.
Winter Dog Care Tips
- Consider a coat for your dog in cold weather. If you have an active breed with a thick coat like the Border Collie in the image above then they are highly unlikely to need a coat. Other breeds like the Husky & Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, German Shepherd, Newfoundland, St. Bernard, Akita and Shiba Inu are perfectly suited to cold weather. However dogs with fine short hair and / or low percentage of body fat don’t do so well in winter. Such breeds include Greyhounds, Whippets, Saluki and Chinese Crested. Even the popular Staffie can benefit from a coat in cold weather, despite a stocky build.
- Beware of ice between paws. Many dogs love to play in the snow. Snow can get compacted between the toes, especially on dogs with long hair in this area. The snow can quickly turn to ice which can be painful. You can trim the fur between their toes. Alternatively you might want to buy dog booties, though many dogs don’t like anything strange on their paws. Whilst on the subject of their paws I want to mention antifreeze and deicers and how they are poisonous to dogs. It’s not uncommon at this time of year that we use such products on our car windscreens and driveways. Unfortunately dogs can end up getting it on their paws which they then might lick. If you think your dog walks in areas where they may come into contact with deicer, wash their paws in water. Having said this the issue with antifreeze tends to affect cats more than dogs.
- If you have a dog who simply hates spending much time outside in winter then take their reduced activity level into account when you feed them. If you don’t reduce the amount they eat they could easily gain weight over the winter.
- Think about a high visibility collar or coat. This mainly applies to scent driven breeds who like to investigate the undergrowth or dogs with suspect recall. During winter it can be quite dark and gloomy if we are walking our dog after work. It’s also not uncommon to have dense fog at this time of year, reducing visibility greatly.
- Take care near water. Some breeds just love the water and head straight for it. Every year there will be a news story about a dog who falls into a frozen lake or river who dies as a result. Sometimes it’s the owner who dies trying to save their pet from such a scenario. If in doubt just change your usual walking location if you happen to have a water obsessed dog.
- Reduce the number of baths. This might sound counterintuitive as dogs usually get dirtier more quickly in winter. However too many baths can strip them of natural oils. Humans sometimes use lip balm and moisturizer more in winter, your dog’s coat helps them in the same way.
Winter Dog Care Summary
The above is by no means an exhaustive list but covers the most common winter dog care scenarios. If you would like to read a more indepth article about winter care tips then consider the following article by Dogs Naturally Magazine:
If you have any tips or points you would like to add feel free to leave a comment.