The first snow brings a lot of joy to dogs: they become more active and playful. However, winter is not only happy and fun, but also fraught with some danger. To make sure your dog’s life will be enjoyable in winter, you need to spend a little time preparing your pet for the cold.
- Walking the dog in winter
- Feeding your dog in winter
- Winter coat care
- Protection of paws
- Walking the dog in the dark
- Features of keeping a dog outdoors in winter
Walking the dog in winter
Preparing for winter should start with yourself: you need to choose the right clothes, especially shoes. Next, you should pay attention to the state of health of the dog: in the cold, she really needs a strong immunity.
You need to be more careful with puppies, as their immunity is weaker than that of an adult dog. Particular attention should be paid to dogs that suffer from arthritis and arthrosis.
Safe place for dog walking
Avoid places where it can be slippery or where glass can be under the snow. Branches and thick trunks of plants can also pose a threat in winter. When planning a walking route, choose as clear roads as possible.
Time allotted for a walk
There is no need to shorten the time you walk with an adult and healthy dog. Winter walks should be active. Despite the fact that dogs tolerate cold well, they can suffer from hypothermia. If the dog clenches its paws, stubbornly tries to lie down or sit down, then it is better to end the walk as soon as possible.
Be sure to read our article: Frostbite in Dogs. Signs, first aid, treatment
Feeding your dog in winter
Dogs always become more plump by winter. This is necessary to keep warm. Your dog’s calorie intake should be increased as long as the dog is not overweight. The amount of calories you need depends on the ambient temperature.
Switching to a winter diet
The transition to a more calorie-rich diet should be smooth. It should start in the fall. You can increase the calorie content not only by directly increasing the portion, but also by increasing the frequency of feeding up to three or even four times a day. Vitamins should also be included in the pet’s diet to enhance immunity.
The importance of undercoat density
The increase in calories depends on the density of the dog’s coat. Pets with a thick undercoat do not need a serious increase in the amount of feed. In contrast, dogs that have no undercoat at all will need to nearly double their calories.
You may be interested in our article on whether dogs get cold in winter.
Winter coat care
The dog’s molt should be over by early or mid-December. If your pet’s coat is not ready for winter, it may be cold. To help your dog get ready for winter as soon as possible, brush it at least once a week (for dogs with thick coats, it is recommended to comb it at least twice a week).
If you do not comb the dog, then its coat will quickly get tangled. The more the coat gets tangled, the more cold air and snow it will let through to the delicate skin. Matted wool also collects more dirt and moisture, so it gets dirty faster, dries slower and increases the risk of the animal getting sick.
Icicles and snow adhering to the dog’s fur
In winter, snow will stick to the dog’s coat, especially the fur between the toes, turning into icicles. There is nothing to worry about, but when you return home, it is better to dry the dog so that it does not get wet. Icicles, which form on the paws of dogs, cause a little discomfort in the animal, but the pet will get rid of them on its own. It is not necessary to shorten the hair between the toes, as this will cause the snow to reach the dog’s skin.
Special clothes for dogs
If your pet does not have a thick undercoat or has health problems, then he will need clothes. Many people think that putting clothes on an animal is ridiculous, even somewhat silly, but this can be a serious mistake. Even a dog with a thick undercoat at very low temperatures will not be disturbed by clothing.
The main clothes are raincoats, blankets, overalls and sweaters. Some dog breeds may need clothing even before the snow falls.
For more information, see our article: Do you need to dress dogs and why
Shoes, in turn, protect the dog’s paws, and mostly not from glass and other sharp objects, but from reagents. However, it is very problematic to train a dog to use shoes, even if it has been trained since childhood. Many dogs stubbornly take off their shoes. When accustoming a dog, it is better to start not with shoes, but with socks, since they do not interfere so much with an unaccustomed pet.
Pet paw protection
In winter, ice, hard snow, reagents and salt on the roads can pose a significant threat to the dog’s paws. Let’s dwell on this in more detail.
Danger of reagents
Reagents are used to get rid of ice and snow outside, primarily near houses. They have a negative effect on the condition of the dog’s paws: they cause painful cracks in dogs. Sometimes sand is used instead of reagents, which is safe for the dog’s paw pads. If there is melted snow on the paths, and the temperature outside is low, most likely it was the reagents that were used.
If you used reagents in front of the house, and you need to go for a walk with your pet, try to walk over them as little as possible. It is highly discouraged to spend the entire walk in the area where reagents are sprinkled. When leaving the danger area, immediately let the dog brush its paws on the snow.
When you return home, wash your dog’s paw pads with paw shampoo. Using a regular shampoo will only dry out the skin, not completely washing off the reagents.
The only thing that can be done is to secure your path as much as possible. You can do this with shoes. Protective spray, wax and paw balm are also effective methods. Creams are also helpful, but they are less protective against reagents and can also cause allergies in the dog.
Walking the dog in the dark
In winter it gets dark early, because of which you will either have to go out for a walk earlier, or walk the dog in the dark. Try to avoid dark and completely deserted places, and also never forget the flashlight, because tracking the dog in the dark is much more difficult.
Distance between owner and dog
Losing your dog in the dark is much easier. A dog released from a leash can not only get lost, but also scare people. To avoid possible problems with your pet, it is better not to let it off the leash once again. If the dog is still released, try to keep less distance with it than during the day. Make sure your pet doesn’t eat anything.
In order not to lose your pet in the dark, it is better to put a special collar on it. It is completely harmless to dogs. A lighted collar is usually worn as an optional collar. The backlight can be of different colors, but the main colors are red and green.
Features of keeping a dog outdoors in winter
Some dogs are not adapted for outdoor life in cold weather. However, other breeds have a dense and thick coat that allows them to easily endure the winter. But no matter how well the dog does not endure the winter, it needs a warm home, where it can always keep warm.
If the main home of the dog is a booth, then it must be insulated. The booth is usually made of wood and is set up about 10 cm above the ground. The walls from the inside must be upholstered with warm material. Also, the pet needs a dense bedding in the form of cloth or straw.
If the animal is kept not just in a booth in the yard, but in an aviary, then insulation will be required not only for a sleeping place, but also for the entire aviary as a whole. You can also put cloth or straw in the aviary. If there is no desire to constantly change the litter in the enclosure, then it is necessary to teach the dog to walk only outside of it. It is worth being careful with the insulation of the enclosure if the dog lives there all year round, since it should not be hot there in summer.
If you follow these simple rules, your dog’s life will be joyful and happy in winter!