Dogs may be covered in fur, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the cold. The truth is that regardless of how thick a dog’s coat is or what part of the world the breed originates from, no dog should be left to the elements.
Luckily, there are a few steps responsible dog owners can take to keep their dogs warm and comfortable throughout the winter season.
1. Respect the Elements
While dogs seem to get a little pep in their step with cooler weather, a good owner will watch his or her pet vigilantly when the temperature dips to heavy sweater weather. In fact, it is recommended that some dogs with shorter coats wear sweaters, coats, or warming vests to keep them toasty in the cold, since their coats don’t provide much in the way of protection against the elements.
However, even dogs with the thickest coats still have areas of their bodies (such as the ears and the nose) that are exposed to the elements. In very cold weather, a dog can catch hypothermia and even frostbite, just the same as a person would.
If you think the weather will be too cold for your dog’s comfort, don’t hesitate to bring him or her inside, and if you have to bring your dog outside to go potty, make sure to keep it brief, keep your eyes on your pet the whole time (look out for any abnormal behavior indicating that it’s time to go back inside), and make sure your dog has the appropriate cold-weather clothing if applicable. Also, don’t allow ice to form on your dog’s body, since this is a sign of extremely cold weather, which can be harmful to a dog’s skin.
2. Groom Your Dog with Cold Weather in Mind
If your dog grows a winter coat, it’s there for a reason. When dogs go outside, that coat is often the only thing standing between them and the elements (unless they’ve been dressed in some of the previously mentioned cold-weather clothing). For this reason, it’s a good idea to hold off on any haircuts for your dog until warmer weather emerges. Also, if you plan to bathe your dog, be sure to do it indoors (of course). Use lukewarm water and be sure to dry your dog quickly once the bath is over.
3. Walk Well
While it’s important to take your dog for regular walks, there are a few things to keep in mind before trudging out into the frigid outdoors. For one thing, when it’s cold out, you need to mind your surroundings to make sure to keep your dog from walking into icy cold water, which can cause discomfort for your dog and may be dangerous over time. For this reason, you may want to find some weather-resistant booties to put on your dog when it’s cold, wet, or snowy out. Also, when the weather is especially cold to the point that it’s difficult to stay outside, go with your instincts and shorten the length of the walk. Remember, the cold weather doesn’t just pose a threat to your immune system, it can also lower your dog’s immune defenses as well.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be doing your part to keep your dog warm and comfortable for this season and the seasons to come.