Winter Dog Safety Guide

winter dog safety guide - dog in snow with scarfThere’s a chill in the air, and winter is upon us. It’s time to start preparing your pup! He might have a built-in coat, but sometimes that’s just not enough. There are a variety of accessories and activities that can help keep your dog safe this winter. These are some of the most important safety tips to ensure your furry family makes it through the winter safely.

Provide Winter Shelter

If your dog spends the majority of his time outside, it’s a good idea to bring him in during the winter. The low temperatures and snowy conditions aren’t ideal for a pup. If he still loves to spend a ton of his time outside, at the very least, make sure he has a durable enclosure that wards off the winter weather.

Keeping the enclosure as close to your home as possible is recommended. By doing so, it provides additional heating to the enclosure and prevents your pup from being separated in the case of heavy snowfall. Plus, you’ll hear his animated barks when someone comes close to the house – mail personnel or intruders beware!

Outdoor enclosures should also be properly outfitted. Using warm blankets, methods of insulation, and even specialty heaters can vastly improve conditions for your dog. Having him comfortable, and safe, will keep him healthy through the cold. Remember to watch out for frostbite and hypothermia! If your dog seems lethargic, or his skin is stiff or gray, take him to the vet right away.

Medications During the Winter

Many owners stop certain medication for dogs over the winter, thinking that it’s safe. For example, owners stop flea treatments and heartworm medication that may not seem necessary during the winter when the parasites aren’t breeding. It’s often an easy way to save money. However, it’s crucial to continue regimented medication throughout the year.

While it’s true that fleas don’t breed during the winter, they have a much more nefarious means of staying alive. In the fall, fleas leave behind eggs and resilient pupae that survive even the toughest conditions. If pups don’t stay on their flea medication over the winter, those flea pupae will live to see another summer.

The myth that owners can also stop giving heartworm medication during the winter is a more dangerous one. According to the FDA, just because mosquitos aren’t as common during the winter doesn’t mean they’re all gone. Mosquitoes can infect dogs with heartworms all year-round, so stopping heartworm medication can lead to disastrous results.

Check The Paws!

Pup paws get just as dry as our hands during the winter! Their paw pads are susceptible to cracking and bleeding as well, so don’t forget to periodically check on them. They may even need lotion.

Not just any lotion will do, unfortunately, because human lotions will soften the pads too much. Going without that extra toughness can lead to more problems down the road, so try to get lotion designed for dogs. Even coconut oil can work well, in moderation. You can even make your own paw balm. Make sure to rub the lotion or paw balm gently onto the pad and between his little toes for optimum moisturizing.

Cold Nose, Warm Heart

All kinds of dogs love to play in the snow come winter time. They nip at flurries and romp in snow piles, always eager to play. Following these suggestions and winterizing your puppy will let your pup play to his heart’s content without risking his safety. So, let it snow!