When the mercury falls and it’s time for you and your family to bundle up, don’t forget that your dog needs to stay safe, warm, and comfy, too:
- More dogs get lost during winter. Why? In the snow or during a storm, it is easy for a dog to lose his keen sense of smell and not be able to find his way home. Be sure to keep your dog on-leash during winter storms, and always put an ID tag on his collar. Consider also fitting your dog with a microchip ID.
- Always clean your dog’s paws and coat when he comes in from bad weather, especially snow, ice, or sleet. Road salt, antifreeze, sand, and other hazardous materials can accumulate on his paws and coat which he could lick and ingest, or absorb through his skin. If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, contact your vet or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. Also, his paw pads may be affected by frost and ice, which can cause cracking and bleeding.
- Never shave long-coated dogs down during winter months. He will need his long fur to protect him from the cold. For short-haired dogs, consider a dog sweater or coat to help keep him warm.
- If you give your dog a bath, be sure he is totally dry before you let him outside.
- Cars can be deathtraps for dogs during the winter months, just as in summer. Cars tend to retain cold like a refrigerator and can quickly chill a dog, causing hypothermia.
- Puppies may not like the cold weather and this could be a problem if you are trying to housetrain them. You may have to paper-train your pup until better weather comes around.
- If old age or illness makes your dog intolerant of the cold, take him outside only to eliminate.
- If your dog loves a romp in the snow, be sure to feed him a little more, especially proteins; dogs burn more calories in the cold. Also, keep up on his grooming to keep him happy and healthy. A nice warm dog bed or blanket, up off the floor and away from drafty doors and windows, is very important to keep your furry friend warm.