Brr. Winter is officially in Columbus! It’s that time of the year when you can see your breath and the wind chill plummets to temperatures in the teens. Winter coats, hats and gloves are not optional nor a fashion accessory – they are essential to keep you warm.
As you battle the snow, ice and rain, remember you dog is doing the same.
No matter how big your dog is or how much fur he has, chances are he gets cold. And keep in mind that both puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to cold temperatures than dogs in their prime. Although certain dogs are bred for the cold — like mastiffs, sheep dogs, and Bernese mountain dogs — chances are he could develop frostbite and/or paw injuries when the temperatures fall below freezing. Do not allow your dog to spend long periods of time outside when it’s this cold – especially arthritic dogs.
Here are some tips to ensure your dog stays warm:
- Grooming. Your dog’s fur coat is critical to keeping him warm In fact, certain breeds of dogs have a double coat to keep them even warmer. A good rule of thumb is not to trim, shave or cut your dog’s hair from January through March because a dog’s full coat is the only thing that keeps him warm in the winter. Keep your dog’s coat brushed as matted hair does not repel water as well. Bathe your dog as infrequently as possible but if you must bathe him do it indoors and do not let him outside until his fur is dry.
- Paw pads.Keep your dog’s paws well-trimmed to avoid snow or ice accumulations from fur within the pads. If your dog’s paws are cracked, consider buying some Vaseline or even paw protection wax to protect their paws even more. Booties also are an aid.
- Dogs that actively spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter need to be fed more food than they usually eat so they have the extra energy needed to keep them warm. However, this rule does not apply to dogs that stay indoors. In fact, most dogs do not get as much exercise during the winter, so you should reduce their food intake.
- You may put a clean bowl of water outside every day, but does it freeze? Don’t assume snow or ice will provide a good source of water.
- Button up. Like to go for long walks in the winter? Consider buying sweaters, coats, hats, mittens and booties. Remember that fleece linings are particularly good for warmth.
Bottom line? Cold temperatures below freezing are unsafe for your dog. Do not leave your dog outside for extended periods. If you have an outside dog house, be sure it is heated, dry and away from cold drafts. Provide plenty of blankets and pillows – a heated bed may also be a good option. My rule of thumb is that if it’s too cold for me, it’s probably too cold for Maksim.