6 Tips To Winterize Your Dog

 |  Nov 25th 2008  |   7 Contributions


Winter weather is here, at least in many areas of the country, bringing with it biting cold and snow.

There are a few things to keep in mind as the temperatures drop when it comes to the safety of your dog.

The Humane Society has some provided some helpful tips to keep away the winter woes.

* Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

* No matter what the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If your dog is an outdoor dog, however, he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

* Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

* Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

* The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

* Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.

For those Dogsters wondering if your dog needs a coat, I went to Dogster's vet blog and checked with Dr. Eric Barchas. So, do dogs need to wear coats?

It depends on the dog, and it depends on how cold it is.

As a rule, smaller dogs are more likely than larger dogs to need extra warmth. Their small bodies cannot hold heat as well.

Likewise, dogs with short, thin coats are more likely than those with long, thick coats to need extra warmth.

Therefore, a Chihuahua who lives in Los Angeles might need a sweater if it dips below 50 degrees (Fahrenheit). A husky who lives in Fairbanks might never need a sweater.

Also, remember that pets, like people, warm up with activity. I may take off my jacket when I am hiking a trail up a hill, but put it on again when I reach the top. A dog playing fetch usually won't need a coat. A dog being carried in a purse usually will.

Given the complexity of the situation, your best bet is to use common sense and pick up on your pets' cues. If they are reluctant to go outside, or if they show signs of being cold (such as seeking warmth or shivering), then you should consider bundling them up.

According to The Humane Society, the happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time.

* The snow cutie above is Dazzle.

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