8 Essentials to Keep Your Dog Happy (& Safe) This Winter
The long dark, cold days of winter can be a trial for anyone, including your dog. Dry air sucks the moisture out of his nose as easily as it does your skin. The boredom of being stuck indoors weekend after weekend grates on his nerves as much as it does yours. But with a few key essentials, you can keep your dog comfortable, healthy and entertained all winter long.
Here are eight must-haves that will keep your dog happy (and safe) this winter.
If your dog balks at morning walks in the middle of January, it just might be the cold he’s afraid of. Despite having a fur coat, only dog breeds with long fur or thick double coats can stand up to freezing temps without some extra help. Small dogs, dogs with short legs (like Dachshunds and Chihuahuas), super skinny dogs (like Whippets and Greyhounds), and those with short, single coat fur are especially vulnerable to the cold. Doggie sweaters and coats are an essential winter wardrobe item for these pups, especially when braving the cold temps for an outdoor walk.
Choose from all kinds of fashions and styles, including waterproof variations for playing in the snow versus simply staying warm.
Snow and ice can be killers on your dog’s paws. And while frostbite isn’t super common in companion dogs, chapped, cracked and sore paws are. The best protection you can give your dog’s paws are booties.
Dog boots don’t only protect your pup’s paws from the elements. They also reduce his contact with salt and chemical snowmelts that are frequently used on sidewalks and streets. Both salt and snowmelt can burn your dog’s paws. Not to mention the upset stomach he can get if he licks it off.
Heated Doggie Bed
Arthritic bones and cold mix as well as oil and water. Dogs with osteoarthritis often suffer more in the winter than at any other time of year. Bones and joints stiffen up as the temps go down, making getting up and down the stairs, walking, and even standing more painful. Heated doggie beds reduce the effects of the cold on your dog’s arthritis. They don't only help prevent stiffness. The heat soothes the pain he may be feeling, as well.
Heated beds are also great for dogs that are especially sensitive to the cold. Who doesn’t love snuggling up for a cold winter’s nap with an extra bit of warmth?!
Paw & Nose Balm
Snow, ice, cold air, and forced heat can all wreak havoc on the bottoms of your dog’s paws. If your pup’s paws and nose are chapped and cracked, use a paw balm to soften them up and ease any discomfort he might be feeling.
You can also use a paw balm in place of booties. The balm creates a barrier that offers some level of protection, though not nearly as good as booties.
In the dark days of winter, when you and your four-legged bestie are stuck indoors for longer, some extra toys can help stave off the winter doldrums.
Dogs need stimulation and exercise. When they’re deprived of either one, they sometimes act out. All their energy needs to be dispelled somehow. And since, winter walks are, by necessity, shorter, your dog has less opportunity to walk it out.
Giving your dog toys that stimulate the mind or can provide indoor exercise (a tug toy, for instance), can keep boredom at bay. And, prevent any destruction that boredom might lead to.
Reflective Leash & Collar (or Collar Light)
Short winter days mean morning walks are often before the sun comes up. And evening walks after the sun has gone down. And that spells danger for you and your pup. Rather than forego the daily outdoor routine, use a reflective leash and collar (or collar light) to help drivers spot you before it’s too late. (And remember, the colder it is outside, the shorter your walks should be!)
Up-to-Date ID Tags & Microchip
Dogs that fly the coop during the winter have a harder time finding their way back home. That’s because snow and ice obscure recognizable scents that, at another time of year, your pup could use to find his way home. To better the chances of your pooch getting back to you if he gets lost, make sure his ID tags are up-to-date and that he’s chipped and registered.
Furnace/Space Heater Barriers
Little feels better than the warmth of a space heater on a cold winter’s day. But while we know to keep our distance, dogs don’t realize that curling up next to a space heater or furnace can result in a bad burn. Keep your dog safe by placing a barrier or gate around your furnace and any space heaters you have in the house. They won’t stop the heat from spreading, but they will prevent your dog from getting too close.