With the first arctic outflow of the season upon us, it seems only fitting to review some crucial information for keeping dogs safe in the extreme cold. When temperatures fall below zero, it can become difficult for some dogs to regulate their body temperature. Age, size, body fat percentage and the thickness of your dogs coat are all key factors in their ability to cope with the cold. Sunny days can help keep dogs with dark fur warm while wet days can make the temperatures feel even colder!
Do you have a dog that usually requires a lot of physical exercise and is used to long walks? Try switching to more frequent walks of a shorter duration (15-20 mins max). As always, ensuring your dog has proper mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Mini training sessions and enrichment toys & games are a great option for when the temperatures start to plummet.
When spending time outdoors with your pup, be aware of signs they may be getting cold. Shivering, shaking, whining, and paw lifting are signs that your dog is no longer comfortable in the environment. Keep a particularly close watch on puppies, seniors, small breed dogs, and dogs with short fur and little to no undercoat. These dogs tend to be more susceptible to the cold and may require outerwear during the winter months. Sweaters, waterproof jackets and parkas are all great options for keeping your pup comfortable!
Colder temperatures also means more salt/ice melting products being applies to roads and walkways. These materials can cause paw pads to peel making them more sensitive. Wiping down you dogs paws as they come back inside from a walk is a good idea to avoid them ingesting salt from their paws. Applying an all natural paw balm or having your dog wear booties (if they're cooperative) are also great options.
Keep a close eye on your pups when enjoying the great outdoors this winter. A coat and/or booties are not only practical for the extreme cold but they look pretty darn adorable too. Keep your walks brief and remember that indoor mental stimulation is also effective for tiring out our four legged friends!