Sweater Weather: Keeping Dogs Warm all Winter
Temperatures have dropped, so it’s time to bundle up! Sweater weather is in full effect around these parts, and pet parents aren’t about to let their dogs get too cold or too unfashionable. While many may scoff at the idea of putting clothes on animals, it can be a very important safety preventive to avoid hypothermia or even frostbite. It is a normal part of our own routine to put on a winter jacket, boots, and gloves before braving the cold, and it can become normal for your canine companion too. No, not all dogs need to bundle up before going outside, but those who do can greatly benefit from it such as:
- Small Breeds
- short-haired dogs
- senior dogs (over the age of 7)
- puppies (under 1 year old)
- dogs with medical conditions
Take special care with dogs with exceptionally short legs, like dachshunds and corgis. Their bellies can more easily drag through snow and ice, causing them to feel cold quicker.
Be Alert for Signs Your Dog is Cold
Just because your dog is wearing a fur coat doesn’t automatically mean he’s always warm. Individual dogs have different tolerances for cold. Some breeds (Akitas, Huskies, Samoyeds, and Saint Bernards, to name a few) are better suited to cold weather. Short-haired dogs tend to feel the cold more than their long-haired friends. Some health conditions can affect dogs’ tolerance to cold. Your dog will tell you if he’s getting cold. You just need to watch him. Some clues it’s time to go in include:
- Whimpering or whining
- Wincing, limping, or other clues it hurts when he walks
- Heading back towards home
- Trying to find shelter
If even short jaunts out in cold weather leave your dog shivering, consider getting him a sweater or coat. There are different styles and weights so you can find something that will help keep him warm. He may resist having you put a coat on him at first, but when he realizes how much better he feels with it on, you’ll have no more problems bundling him up for the cold.
Take Care of Their Feet
Even though dogs’ paws get pretty toughened up when they’re outside, they can still have problems in the winter. Snow and ice can get up in the webbing between their toes, and stick in the fur between their toe pads. Crusty snow and ice can cut their toe pads. Dogs can even get frostbite. Small dogs with tiny feet can are particularly susceptible to cold feet.
Ice melt can be another hazard to dogs’ paws. If you use ice melt at your home, make sure you get one that is approved for use around pets or keep your dog off it. If you live in an apartment complex or take walks on public sidewalks and you aren’t sure whether or not ice melt is used, consider getting dog booties to protect your dogs’ feet. Dog booties also provide some protection for dogs who suffer from cold feet.
When you bring your dog in, be sure to get all the snow and ice out from between his toes. Dry his feet and toes thoroughly. If his feet are very cold, warm them with a towel, blanket, or your hands until he feels like running off through the house.
Limit Baths & Use a Moisturizing Shampoo.
Shampoo baths can be hard on your dog’s skin anytime of the year, so during the winter months it won’t hurt to limit bath time to only when completely necessary. A lot of times a simple water bath will suffice, rather than lathering your dog up with shampoo. However, you should invest in a good moisturizing shampoo and supplement to use during the winter months to help prevent any problems with your dog’s skin or coat.