5 Cold Weather Tips For Dogs

It can be beautiful to look outside your window and see a winter wonderland waiting for you. While falling snowflakes and crystalline icicles are idyllic, the frigid temperatures that come with the season can be hazardous to you and your canine companion. So, before heading out the door for a walk, keep these five cold-weather tips for dogs in mind.

1. Bundle Up For The Cold

While dogs may already have a fur coat, they may need an extra layer of warmth during frigid weather. There are a variety of winter dog sweaters and jackets you can buy for your pooch at pet stores or online. While shopping for a puppy parka, remember to never dress your dog in anything that makes them visibly uncomfortable or restricts their movement. If you take your dog for night walks look for a reflective jacket to increase visibility.

Bonus: Does your dog need a sweater? These pups might!

If you aren’t sure if you should bundle up your canine companion, consider whether they fit into one of the following categories, suggested by the American Kennel Club.

  • Small, short-haired dogs – like Chihuahuas
  • Lean, short-haired dogs – like Greyhounds
  • Low-bellied dogs – like Corgis
  • Groomed dogs that have lost their coat – like Poodles

2. Keep Their Paws Safe

Ice can be a danger to humans and dogs alike, but the products we use in winter can cause even more damage. Salt is known to cut dogs’ paws and antifreeze is particularly toxic. It is important to keep household products like these out of reach of pets to avoid any accidents. Despite the irritation of salt, it does help to prevent slips and falls. Consider purchasing or making pet-friendly ice melt to ensure your pet’s safety on your property. You can also help protect your pup’s paws by equipping them with booties before a walk (keeping in mind your dog’s comfort, of course) and rubbing balm on their paws to keep them moisturized. After a walk, wipe down their paws with a towel to get out any snow, ice, or salt.

3. Limit Outdoor Time In Cold Weather

An important cold weather tip for dogs is to limit their exposure to the cold. While some dog breeds are more suited for cold climates, bone-chilling temperatures can still affect the hardiest of breeds after a while. Like humans, dogs can also get hypothermia or frostbite if they are outside for too long. When the temperatures drop, it’s tempting to skip a nightly walk but it’s important for both you and your pup to get some physical exercise. But, if the extreme wind chill is unbearable, you will probably be okay to let your dog outside for a few minutes for a potty break. Make sure to watch your dog’s body language on a cold winter walk. If you notice they are lifting their paws or shivering, it might be time to head indoors.

4. Have A  Winter Emergency Kit

Unexpected scenarios are much worse to deal with when you are unprepared and even harder to handle when it is the winter time. Whether it is a power outage during a winter storm or you are having car trouble, you will be thankful to have an up-to-date human and pet-safe aid kit. 

Bonus: What goes in a pet emergency kit?

If you aren’t sure what to put in your pet’s emergency kit, start with these items:

  • Water bowl & water
  • Food bowl & dog food
  • Splint
  • Bandages
  • Extra leash / harness
  • Carrier
  • Pet bed or blankets
  • Toy(s)
  • Diet or medical conditions information

Having this pet safety kit ready can give you peace of mind. You can also consider having a battery-operated heater or thermal mat to help keep your canine warm if the heating system fails.

5. Avoid Thin Ice

During winter outings with your dog, it’s important to steer clear of frozen lakes and ponds. Thin ice may not be able to support your dog’s weight, or yours, which can lead to a scary situation if they fall through the ice. Enjoy the beauty of the frozen bodies of water from a safe distance with your dog on a leash. 

By including these cold weather tips into your winter routine, you can keep your dog warm and safe throughout winter. Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s most likely too cold for your dog as well. Keep an eye on your furry friend’s comfort levels to help enjoy a snug and secure season.