As temperatures drop and days shorten, there are new things to consider and include in our daily care for our dogs. Here are a few simple tips that can help your dog stay safe and comfortable when taking them out on these colder, darker days of the year.
Are they dressed for the weather conditions?
Lower temperatures are a welcome change for some breeds, but many dogs can find wetter, colder weather uncomfortable, especially when the change is sudden.
Depending on coat type, health and age of the dog, temperature regulation can be difficult. Some breeds of dogs have thick insulating coats or ones that can wick away water and protect them in inclement weather. Dogs with thin coats, silky coats or single coats are not as well protected and are more prone to becoming chilled, especially in wet or windy conditions.
Puppies and smaller dogs may also struggle to maintain a comfortable body temperature. This can also be the case with underweight dogs, seniors, and those suffering from various health conditions.
What you can do to keep them warm
Since many factors are at play, parents should consider their dog’s specific condition and situation. Dog jackets can be a convenient option for parents as they make clean up on wet days faster and easier. However, if your dog falls into one or more of the abovementioned categories, then protective wear may be advised for the dog’s well-being. For many dogs, a light cover that shields them from the rain or wind is enough. For others, an insulating layer may be more appropriate.
Here are a couple of great companies that have a variety of dog gear:
Choose activities that suit your dog
Consider the type of activity your dog does, along with the intensity and length of time. For example, having a dog engage in vigorous activity and then remain outside in wet, cool weather may cause them to become chilled. On the other hand, some dogs will quickly become uncomfortable if they are inactive or standing around in damp or cold weather. Again, special attention should be given to dogs falling into the special categories mentioned.
Monitor your dog to watch for signs of them becoming chilled.
- shivering or trembling
- paw lifting
- clumsy movement
- ear temperature – gently hold your dog’s ear. If it feels cold, then your dog is cold.
Take Care of Their Paws
The weather impacts our dog’s paws more than many people realize. Being in direct contact with the ground, they are sensitive to extremes in temperature. Just as hot weather can pose a risk, so can cool weather. Frosty temperatures can lead to dry and cracked pads, a painful condition.
Salted roads and sidewalks pose an additional risk. Many de-icers, along with anti-freeze, are irritating to the skin and dangerous if ingested when the dog licks their pads.
What to do to keep their paws safe
- Avoid salted areas when possible.
- Apply a nourishing balm to protect your dog’s pads from cold and irritants.
- Always rinse or wipe pads thoroughly when returning to the car or home. Remove all residue from the entire foot, including the pads and between the toes. Ensure no crystals are stuck between the toes or on the fur.
- Dog boots are a great option for some dogs. When properly introduced and conditioned, dogs can learn to wear them happily.
Is Your Dog visible?
Taking dogs out in the dark is a daily reality for many people. Although most of us are aware of dressing ourselves to be visible, we often overlook the importance of doing the same for our dogs. A reflective collar is a step in the right direction, but it usually does not provide enough to keep our dogs safe. If your dog walks ahead of you and steps onto the road before you, they may be completely invisible to drivers, especially if they are black or dark-coloured. They can also pose a risk to oncoming pedestrians. A flashing collar, along with hi-vis leashes, vests, harnesses, or coats, will offer a higher degree of visibility and safety for you and your dog.
Paying attention to our daily routines and habits will ensure our dogs have safe and comfortable outdoor adventures over the winter months. A few moments of our attention can prevent situations that might cause our dogs discomfort or health issues or impact the quality of our time together. Stay tuned for more on each of these topics in future blogs,