By Lucy Wyndham
Winter is almost here, and 78 million dog owners in the US will be trying to keep their pets warm and comfortable during the upcoming chillymonths. While some dogs may prefer to stay indoors curled up in front of the fire, some pets—especially those who have boundless energy—will be heading outdoors to play in the snow. Though a bit of winter playtime is important to keep your dog happy, keep in mind that just like humans, pets are susceptible to winter ailments such as the common cold, frostbite, and hypothermia. To keep your dog healthy this winter, it’s imperative to keep them as warm and dry as possible whether indoors and outdoors. Dog owners also need to look after their pet’s nutrition and keep them away from common chemicals that are often used during the cold months.
Here are 5 smart ways to keep your dog healthy and happy this winter.
Protect your dog’s paws
One of the first things that you have to do before taking your dog out in snowy conditions is to protect your pet’s paws. Clip the hairs around your dog’s toes to prevent ice or snow from getting lodged between them, and make your dog wear booties before heading outdoors. Choose boots made of materials that will keep water out, but make sure that the boots are breathable for comfort. You can also make homemade dog shoes by purchasing the appropriate materials and tracing your dog’s feet on paper so you’ll know how big the boots should be.
Bring a towel during long walks
Your dog’s paws, legs, and tummy will surely be in constant contact with the snow when you’re walking your dog outdoors, so make sure to bring a dry towel to wipe him down. After your walk, get another towel, moisten it with some warm water, and use it to carefully wipe down your dog’s paws, legs, and tummy to get rid of ice, salt, and chemicals such as antifreeze which can be harmful to your dog’s health.
Feed your dog
Your pet needs food to burn calories which will help to keep him warm during the winter, so feed him more often than usual if he’s active but no more than the usual amount if he spends his days dozing in his dog bed. If your dog lacks appetite, try warming his food and serving him some rich, warm stews. According to the American Kennel Club, warming dog food to 93-104 degrees increases palatability. Make sure to stir the food thoroughly before serving to get rid of any hot spots in your dog’s food.
Keep his bed warm
Place your dog’s bed in the warmest spot in your home so your pet can be warm and comfortable while he sleeps. Provide a cozy blanket so your dog can burrow to his heart’s content. If your pet’s bed needs an upgrade, consider making a new dog bed using an old tire, some paint, and a soft cushion. It’s an easy DIY project that can help to keep your dog happy this winter.
Let your dog wear a sweater
Your dog may have a thick coat of fur, but it may not be enough to keep your dog warm this winter. Have several dog sweaters and coats on hand for your pet to wear outdoors and indoors. If you find that some canine apparel is too expensive, you can recycle old wool sweaters or make a dog sweater from scratch if you know how to knit.
Your dog deserves some extra love and care during the cold months. Follow these tips to keep your pet healthy and happy this winter. If you suspect that your dog is ill or is showing signs of hypothermia, flu, or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.