Written by: Janice Miller
If you’re a dog owner, you know how much fun it is to watch your dog romp in the snow, try to catch snowflakes, and play with the neighbor kids while they slide down the hill, but there are some dangers posed by winter weather that you should be aware of to keep your four-legged friend comfortable and safe. We share four tips below to help you care for your dog this winter.
1. Keep Your Dog Indoors
When the temperature dips, you need to limit your dog’s time outside. Freezing temperatures, frozen ground, and icy toys are not good for you dog for extended periods of time. When your dog is outside during the winter months, ensure that you have provided a warm, dry shelter that protects him from the wind and other harsh elements. If you have a water dish outside, make sure that it is not frozen and that your dog can drink from it easily.
It’s also a good idea to play outside with your dog in winter rather than leaving him out while you enjoy the warm indoors. Give him time to do his business and then throw a toy or two to keep him moving and warm when he is outside. When you’re ready to go in, bring him inside too.
2. Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Skin and Feet
Most of us get dry, itchy skin in the winter. Your dog’s skin is impacted by the dry heat of your home and the cold outdoors, too. It’s better for both of you if you make sure that your home maintains an appropriate level of humidity in winter. It’s better for your dog if you keep a dry, clean towel by the door and wipe him down as soon as he comes inside. Look at his feet and toes and make sure you have removed all the snow from them.
If you go for a walk, take a clean, dry towel with you and occasionally wipe off his paws to remove ice and salt from them. Salt and other de-icers are dangerous for dogs because of the chemicals they contain; in fact, they irritate your dog’s paws and can make him seriously ill if he licks them off his feet and ingests them. If your dog lies on your sidewalk or driveway, he will get the salt and chemicals on his stomach, and you should carefully wash him when he comes inside to remove them.
You can be proactive in protecting your dog from salt and de-icing products by applying petroleum jelly or another type of paw protectant to his paw pads before going outside. Some dog owners put booties on their dogs because they prevent salt from lodging between the toes. Another way to be proactive is to purchase and use pet-friendly ice melts for your property.
3. Keep Your Dog Away from Antifreeze
One product people tend to use more of during the winter months is car antifreeze. While it is essential for your car, it poses a deadly risk to your dog. Be sure that you keep antifreeze out of your dog’s reach and that you immediately clean up spills when you use it. Antifreeze especially is dangerous for dogs because it smells and tastes sweet and is tempting for your four-legged friend who thinks it is a treat. Unfortunately, as little as 1-2 teaspoons of antifreeze can be lethal for a small dog. It’s important to note that propylene glycol antifreeze products are safer than ethylene glycol antifreeze, but neither is good for your dog.
4. Provide Warm Bedding
Even inside your home, your dog can get too cold in winter. If your dog sleeps on a cold floor, use warm blankets or a pet bed so he does not have to try to sleep on a cold surface. Make sure that you place your dog’s bed in a warm spot in your home; it should not be in the path of cold drafts from a door or window or on cold tile or hardwood floors. If your dog has a favorite sleeping spot, place warm bedding there so he is even more comfortable in winter.
If you don’t enjoy winter because you don’t like being cold, your dog probably does not either. It’s best if you keep him indoors, take care of his skin and paw pads, keep him away from car antifreeze, and provide warm bedding so he stays as healthy and warm as possible this winter.
Image via Pixabay by thatsphotography
About the Author:
Janice Miller is a retired veterinarian and loves sharing her knowledge about pet safety and care.