6 Cold Weather Tips For Your Dog

6 Cold Weather Tips For Your Dog

This time of year, it’s nice not to worry about melting in the heat when walking our dogs. Winter temperatures usually are really nice in the Valley, and being outdoors is such a treat.

There are times, however, when it gets a bit cold, and you may wonder if it’s OK to head out with your dog. Always consult your vet about your specific dog’s care, but read on for some general tips on enjoying the outdoors with your pups during the winter months.

1. Know your dog’s risk factors

According to PetMD, risk factors include:

  • Age and health: Puppies and senior dogs and those that are sick are more susceptible to the cold. Cold weather is tough on senior dogs because of their aging joints and decreased ability to regulate their body temperatures. 
  • Coat color: Dark-colored dogs can absorb more sunlight than light-colored ones
  • Coat type: Thicker fur tends to handle cold better than thin coated dogs.
  • Size: Smaller dogs and those with shorter legs get colder faster.
  • Weight: Thinner dogs tend to get colder faster.
  • Conditioning: Like humans, dogs that are frequently out in colder temps often handle it more comfortably.

2. Watch your dog’s behavior

One of the best things you can do is watch your dog carefully when out in the cold. If she is picking up her paws, shivering, acting lethargic, whining, slowing down or heading for home, take her inside.

3. Understand that temperature isn’t everything

Experts don’t agree regarding precise temperature guidelines for dogs. Every dog is so different.

The feel of temperatures can vary due to variables such as cloudiness, winds and moisture. The best thing you can do is watch your dog’s behavior, rather than a temperature gauge.

Generally, dogs should feel all right in the cold until it hits about 45. Below that, some dogs with risk factors might begin to feel uncomfortable.

When temperatures fall below 32, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop problems like hypothermia and frostbite. Dogs are just as susceptible to frostbite as humans. Their ears, tail, and paws are most vulnerable.

4. Consider accessories

As a general rule, dog jackets are not needed until temps are quite cold. It’s important, however, to consider your particular dog. If they have some risk factors that make them more susceptible, or their body language tells you they are uncomfortable, a jacket or booties could help.

5. Pay careful attention in colder climates

If you head up north or travel to a colder area, introduce your dog in short increments, acclimating them gradually to the cold. This is particularly important with senior dogs.

If your dogs are in snow, booties or paw balm are a good idea. Antifreeze used to melt ice is poisonous, so make sure to clean their paws when you get inside before they can lick them.

Look for snow caught between their toes as well. Remember to be aware of frostbite — particularly to the paws, ear tips, or tail.

6. Have a backup plan

What if it’s too cold for your dog? Dogs still need physical activity and mental stimulation. Consider an indoor activity, such as playing fetch, doing a treat hunt, teaching them a new trick, or attending a class.

We hope you enjoy our wonderful winter months with your dog. Happy walking, hiking, jogging, or whatever else you may do with your pups!

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