What’s cuter than seeing your favorite dog play in the snow? Not too many things I can think of! Winter adventures can be so much fun for you and your dog, but it’s important to keep their safety in mind. Cold temperatures can be dangerous for your pet if you don’t take steps to protect them.
Today, I’m sharing my top cold weather dog safety tips. With this helpful information, you and your dog can enjoy this winter together!
You wouldn’t go out for a stroll in the cold without a coat, would you? Make sure your dog is equally comfy during your time outdoors together by dressing them in gear that will keep them warm and safe.
Some dogs have thick fur that helps them tolerate cold temperatures (think Huskies, Saint Bernards, and German Shepherds). But many dogs with short or thinner coats benefit from an added layer of warmth when they’re outside. If your dog is among the latter, consider getting them a neck-to-tail sweater or dog coat they can sport to stay comfortable. There are even snow pants out there for dogs in the cold! Just be sure to always put dry gear on them before heading outdoors.
When there’s frost, snow, or ice on the ground, a set of booties for your pup’s paws can protect them from painful frostbite and cracking. Boots or booties also prevent slips and falls on slippery sidewalks. They keep snowballs and salt and other substances from building between their paw pads.
It might be tempting to let your dog stay outside for long periods when they’re enjoying themselves, but it’s essential to pay attention to how long they’re outdoors in the winter. Even dogs who do well in the cold shouldn’t be outside for extended amounts of time, as their thick winter coats don’t cover their paws, noses, and ears.
A good cold weather dog safety rule of thumb is that temperatures above 45℉ are comfortable for most dogs. Any cooler than that, and you’ll want to pay close attention to your dog’s behavior. If dogs in the cold are shivering, whiny, anxious, or frequently picking their paws up from the ground, it’s time to assess the environment and consider taking them inside.
This chart from PetPlan is an excellent reference point when you’re looking at cold weather dog safety and what temperatures are on the forecast.
For quick potty trips outside, consider placing a patch of hay in your yard, right by the door. That way, your dog can head out to do their business on even the coldest days with a dry layer between their paws and the ground.
If you regularly shave or significantly trim down your long-haired dog’s fur, winter is time to lay off their haircuts. Your dog’s coat helps keep them warm during colder months, so be sure to avoid shaving them and trim only as needed.
Try not to bathe your pup more than needed when it’s super cold out since their skin naturally produces oils that protect it from chapping and chafing. When you do wash your dog, do it indoors and with warm water. Plan time for toweling or blow-drying them, so they’re 100% dry before the next time you go outdoors. There’s nothing worse than wet dogs in the cold!
Regular baths are extra important for dogs who are outside often in the winter due to the mixture of toxic substances they might come in contact with. Bathing washes away things like salt, deicers, and antifreeze that might collect on their paws and fur, keeping them clean and keeping those substances out of your home.
Walks with your dog are good for them – and you, too! But because walks are a significant source of exposure to the cold and those winter chemicals, it’s important to take precautions before and after your strolls to help your dog stay safe and healthy.
Before you head out with your dog, try rubbing petroleum jelly onto their paws and between their toes. It helps protect their paws from cracking, chaffing, and contact with icy ground and pavement. Petroleum jelly also prevents substances and debris from seeping into their toe pads and causing painful cuts or sores.
After your walk, wiping down your dog’s paws, legs, and belly will remove snow and winter substances they may have picked up outside. If your pup’s paws have collected ice balls or excessive amounts of salt or other debris, consider dipping them in warm water and toweling them dry to ensure they’re extra clean.
If your dog loves trips in the car, you can still load them up and hit the road during the winter. But just like it’s important not to leave dogs in the car during the summer, you should avoid leaving them in the car during the winter.
During warm months, when vehicles are turned off, temperatures inside rise very quickly and endanger pets left inside. In the winter, the opposite happens, and vehicle temperatures drop to dangerous levels for your dog. It’s best to limit car travel with your dog to what is necessary and avoid leaving them unattended in a vehicle at any time.
You know how nice it feels to snuggle up inside after time outdoors in the winter, and your dog enjoys a cozy environment, too! Keeping the humidity in your house at comfortable levels will help prevent your dog’s skin from chafing when the air outside is cold and dry. Your pets should always have access to water, and you might find they want to eat a bit more in the winter as their metabolism increases to help their bodies stay warm.
Make sure your dog has a warm spot, away from doors and draft zones, where their bed or soft blankets and pillows are. Keep them safe by avoiding using space heaters or heat lamps in spots where they can bump up against them and hurt themselves.
Some of your best winter memories might include your dog, so enjoy this time of year with them and keep them safe and healthy with these cold weather dog safety tips!Love winter adventures with your dog? Want to capture your favorite seasonal moments together? Contact me to schedule a photoshoot!