Winter can be a wonderful time of year for you and your pets, but it also presents many potential hazards and injuries, such as frostbite and chemical burns on their paws. Whether you’re gearing up to play a game of fetch in the snow, take a walk on some icy paths or your dog simply enjoys the outdoors no matter the temperature, follow these safety tips to make sure they are protected from the elements.
Dog Paw Protection
Wipe Them Down When They Come Inside
Anytime you come inside after playing in the snow or going for a walk, take care to wipe down your pup’s paws to prevent ice from sticking. This also gives you the opportunity to examine their paws for salt and other chemicals in between their paw pads or toes.
Use Dog Booties
While your dog’s paws are quite resilient, they are not exempt from the harmful effects of ice or chemicals. One way you can help prevent ice from forming on their paws, or salt and other chemicals from getting in between their toes, is to purchase booties made especially for dogs. Dog booties often fit like socks and feature a sole that can help provide more traction on slippery surfaces.
Use Petroleum Jelly
Another way to protect your dog’s paws from the elements is to rub petroleum jelly into their paw pads before and after going outside. Not only can this help prevent your dog’s paw from drying out, but it can also serve as a barrier between the paw pads and icy surfaces.
Keeping Dogs Warm Outside
Outerwear for Dogs
Large breed dogs tend to fair better in colder temperature than small breed dogs. Often, this is because large breeds, such as German Shepherds and Huskies, have thicker coats than their smaller friends. In fact, some dogs might develop thicker fur as temperatures drop. Short-haired dogs and puppies, on the other hand, are at a greater risk of becoming too cold in the snow and when temperatures drop below freezing. For these reasons, it might be a good idea to consider outerwear for small breed and short-haired dogs.
When selecting doggy sweaters, vests and jackets for your pup, make sure they have a high enough collar or turtleneck to cover their neck; you will also want to find pet outerwear that is long enough to cover the base of their tail and wrap under their belly.
Limit Time Outside
Despite freezing temperatures, it’s still important for dogs to get daily exercise – preferably outdoors. If you’re worried about your dog getting too cold, you can still let them outside, but limit play or walks to 10 or 15 minutes at a time. This will help prevent ice from forming on their paws and make sure they don’t get too cold.
Although our canine companions can’t tell us when they’re uncomfortably cold, there are a few behaviors that will clue you in. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s time to bring them inside.
Give Them Proper Shelter
Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside for Too Long
Like people, dogs left outside for too long can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. If you have an outdoor dog, let them in at night or make sure they have a winterized doghouse. Your pup’s doghouse should have:
*Materials such as straw or blankets to provide insulation
- Enough space so they can stand up and move around, but it should be small enough to keep the space warm with their own body heat
- A bed that’s off the ground
- Clean drinking water available at all times – if their water bowl is outside, refill it several times a day and make sure that it doesn’t freeze
Don’t Leave Them in the Car
You might have heard that temperatures in your car can reach dangerously high temperatures in a matter of minutes in the summer. But, did you know that trapped cold air can also be fatal to people and animals? While leaving your dog unattended in the car is never a good idea, it’s important to understand that keeping dogs in the car without the heat going can be just as dangerous as leaving them in a vehicle without air conditioning during the hot summer months.
If you think you might need to leave your dog unattended, it’s best to leave them at home.