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Our Top Tips For Winter Dog Care

January 15, 2024

Winter is here, and while we’re all bundling up, let’s not forget about our furry pals. Your dog has to deal with the cold, too! Here’s a quick guide from a Burnsville, MN veterinarian on how to keep your canine buddy warm and smiling during the frosty months. 

Adjust Fido’s Diet If Needed 

Some dogs burn extra calories in the cold just to stay warm. You may need to adjust Fido’s menu a bit.

If any of the following apply to your furry buddy, we recommend consulting your Burnsville, MN vet:

  • Senior
  • Puppy
  • Thin Fur
  • Nursing mama
  • Working dog

Some pups do spend more time outside than others. If Fido spends much time outside, he may also require extra food.

Dogs’ Winter Grooming

Do you know that brushing and bathing Fido can help keep him warm? It is important to keep your dog’s fur in good condition in order to keep him comfortable. Dust, dead fur, and dander can all affect the insulation of his fur. 

Your pet’s exact grooming routine will depend on his fur type. Do some breed research, and ask your Burnsville, MN vet or groomer for guidance.

Play With Your Dog Indoors

Cold weather might limit outdoor activities, but it doesn’t mean your dog has to be sedentary. When it’s too cold to play outside, bring the fun indoors. You can play Tug of War or Fetch in the hallway, or even a try game of hide and seek. Or, engage in indoor activities like interactive play, puzzle toys, or short training sessions to keep Fido’s mind and body active. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep your pup entertained, so he doesn’t turn into a couch potato. A tired dog is a happy dog!

When Is It Too Cold For A Dog To Be Outside?

We’re thrilled to see an increase in laws that make it illegal to leave dogs outside in the cold. While specifics differ by region, the basic gist is the same: keeping Fido outside in cold temperatures is cruel. Most dogs should not be left out for more than a half hour. (Note: there is a possible exception with snow dogs, like huskies, as they love the cold.) 

Does your pup have a home of his own in the yard? Dog Houses should be well-insulated, with the opening facing away from prevailing winds. Of course, Man’s Best Friend should always live  indoors, regardless of whether he has a doghouse or not. 

Is It Okay If My Dog Likes Snow?

Turns out, our canine pals are just as divided on the topic of snow as we are. Some pups absolutely detest the cold. Others enjoy playing in snowbanks. In fact, if you have a snow dog, such as a husky or a Malamute, you may have a hard time getting Fido inside. 

If your furry pal likes the cold, let him play! Just keep an eye on your dog, and don’t leave him outdoors too long. 

Keep Fido Warm And Cozy

Although Fido may have a fur coat on, it isn’t enough to keep him warm. You’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep your pup warm. 

Make sure your pet has a good, comfortable bed. This will protect him from chilly floors, as well as cushion his bones and joints. Orthopedic beds are also a great choice for large dogs and seniors. Pet bed warmers and self-heating beds may also be good options, especially for chilly pups. Of course, there is no rule stating Fido should only have one bed. Get a few different ones if you have enough space. It’s great to have options!

Some of our canine pals need jackets or sweaters when it’s warm. Make sure that Fido’s jacket fits comfortably and doesn’t hinder his vision or mobility. Steer clear of items like buttons or zippers that could potentially harm your canine companion’s coat.

Give Your Dog’s Paws Extra TLC

Salt, sand, ice, and chemical de-icers can all cause painful burns and abrasions on your pet’s feet. The dry winter air can also cause cracks on the paw pads.

Here are a few tips on paw care:

Paw Protection: Keep your pup’s paws moisturized and protected with a paw balm or wax. These can be purchased or easily made at home. One of our favorites is a simple recipe offered by the AKC on their website. The mixture includes ingredients such as olive, sunflower, or sweet almond oil (2 TBSP), coconut oil (2 TBSP), shea butter (1 TBSP), and beeswax (4 TSP). Melt the ingredients together in a pot while stirring, and then pour the mixture into tubes or tins for storage. For storage, you can use clean metal candy tins, or order new tins or tubes. 

Toe Fur: It’s a good idea to trim your pet’s toe fur tufts as well. These collect ice balls, which are very uncomfortable for Fido. They can also lead to slips and strains because they may alter the angle of your pet’s toes against the ground. Plus, they can interfere with traction.

Clean Paw Pads: We suggest that you regularly clean your pet’s paws, especially if you live in the city and take your furry friend for walks in busy areas. Urban sidewalks can be contaminated with various harmful substances, such as salt, chemical de-icers, and antifreeze. Try keeping pet wipes or a water bottle and some cloths near the door. You can also train your dog to associate paw cleaning with receiving treats … or maybe even teach him to wipe his feet on a mat.

Offer Winter Boots:  Dog booties are not just a fashion statement, but a practical solution to keep those feet warm and protected. Just don’t force your dog to wear them. If you find that your dog actually prefers sporting footwear, look into some DIY options. You may be able to make your pup his shoes!

Shop Wisely: Choose a pet-safe de-icing product. These don’t contain the harsh and toxic chemicals that are dangerous for our furry pals. Many brands can be found at pet stores and many hardware stores.

Things To Consider When Walking Your Dog In Winter

As it gets dark early in the winter, you’ll need to be extra vigilant when walking Fido at night. Stay in well-lit, safe areas. You may also want a leash with a flashlight attached.

It’s also important that you take steps to prevent slips and falls. Be sure to wear shoes or boots with good tread. Also, pay attention to the terrain. Fresh snow can hide potential hazards, like broken glass or even holes. Last but not least, avoid taking your dog near frozen bodies of water. For more information, consult your vet.

There you have it: some simple, no-nonsense tips to ensure your furry friend has a blast this winter … or at least stays comfortable. Remember, a little extra care goes a long way in keeping those tails wagging. Stay warm, stay cozy, and keep spreading the doggy love! 

Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions about your pet’s health or care. As your local Burnsville, MN pet hospital, we’re here to help! 

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