Caring For Your Dog During Winter: Indoor Training Where It’s Warm And Cozy
When you were a kid and the winter weather got bad, wouldn’t your teachers bring recess indoors? They knew you had some pent-up energy you had to release — in spite of low temperatures threatening frostbite.
So, during freezing weather, make a plan for your pooch. Believe it or not, indoor training can help your dog exercise their mind and burn off some of that restless energy.
Training your dog helps them learn to socialize. And a cozy indoor day is a great time to teach your dog to greet guests politely. You can even practice dog walking them on a leash inside.
Obedience training offers your pup the physical activity they need to burn off the winter weight they might accumulate from sleeping more and not getting to play outside as much.
Winter Safety For Your Pup: Remember That Dogs Can Get Frostbite
Ensure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink. Summer isn’t the only time your furry friend could get dehydrated. And snow does not count. A full bowl of water should always be available to your pup.1
Now, here’s a biggie: Don’t let your dog out alone in the cold for too long. All dogs are susceptible to frostbite. In cold temperatures, you should always cap your pet’s time spent outdoors. Frostbite is no fun for anyone — especially your furry friend.2
Also, make sure your dog has appropriate shelter. You want your pooch to stay warm and dry. Try to help them avoid a draft as well. One way you can help your pup during cold winters is to keep blankets in their favorite places. This way, no matter how frigid it may get, they can bundle up nice and cozy.
If your dog comes in from the snow or the rain cold and wet, use a hairdryer to blow them dry immediately. Don’t forget your pup’s paws. When your pup gets too cold, their paw pads might crack or get cut. If your dog’s paw pads get cracked, it’s okay to apply a tiny bit of petroleum jelly.3
And finally, be very aware of antifreeze. There are times when antifreeze can puddle up in your driveway or garage. It’s extremely hazardous to animals. Here’s the thing: it actually smells and tastes good to your furry friend. But antifreeze can be lethal, so help your dog avoid it at all costs.4
Outdoor Cold Weather Activities For Your Active Dog: Warm Attire Like Sweaters And Booties
Doggy clothes aren’t just for fun. They’re also functional. Putting your dog in a sweater, jacket, or letting them wear booties outside can do a lot to protect your pup from the elements.
Not all dog bodies are built to weather the cold. And different breeds have different levels of tolerance for freezing weather. Small dogs have a much harder time with harsh weather than big dogs do.5
When it comes to small dogs, help them protect their paws from the ice, cold, and snow by dressing them in pooch booties, pup sweaters, and doggie coats for extra warmth. Bonus: They’ll look adorable, too.
And if your dog’s clothes get wet, change them into dry gear immediately. Believe it or not, your dog’s normal body temperature should be somewhere between 101°F and 102.5°F. Temperatures under 100°F are actually considered hypothermia. A cold, wet dog can possibly become prone to hypothermia. So, always keep your pooch warm and dry.6
Five ways to protect pets in winter
Follow these tips to keep animals safe and comfortable in the cold
1. Keep pets sheltered
Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time. Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops.
If your dog is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
2. Bundle up, wipe down
No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet's life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater—even during short walks.
Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.
3. Remove common poisons
Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family.
Dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas—often when licking it from their paws after a walk. Store de-icing salt in a safe place and wipe your dog’s paws, even after short walks. If your dog ingests rock salt, call a veterinarian immediately.
4. Protect outdoor animals
If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It's easy to give them a hand.
You can make your own cat shelter quickly and easily with a plastic tub.
Cars are one of many hazards to small animals—warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
You can also help make your property safe for deer in the wintertime by waiting until after the first week of December to string lights, and after then, only on trees over six inches in diameter. Before the first snow, you should also store summer recreational materials, like hammocks and swings.
Be sure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold. While not all horses will need to be blanketed, blankets will help horses keep warm and dry, especially if there is any rain or snow. If you’ve body-clipped your horses, keep them blanketed throughout the winter.
Give your horses access to unfrozen water at all times. You can use heated buckets or water heaters/de-icers to make sure the water doesn’t freeze. Also, be sure to feed your horses more forage—unlimited amounts, if possible—during extreme cold. This will help your horses create heat and regulate their body temperatures.
5. Speak out
If you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you're concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock and will be quick to correct any problems you address. If someone you raise these concerns with responds poorly or continues to neglect their animals, follow our steps on reporting winter neglect.