7 Important Winter Dog Care Tips
Just like us humans, dogs are affected both physically and mentally by the cold weather and shorter days in winter. That's why it's so important to take extra precautions to keep them happy and healthy during the winter months.
Want to find out how to enjoy the winter weather safely with your furry friend? Read on for our top winter dog care tips...
1) Keep Your Dog Mentally and Physically Active
Pets (and people) tend to be less active during the winter months, but a lack of physical exercise and mental stimulation can cause problems for your dog. Dogs need regular outdoor exercise all year round; it keeps them mentally and physically active and prevents negative emotions and behavior patterns from developing.
During the winter, make sure to stick to your dog's daily walking routine. Walking is very beneficial for dogs as it releases pent-up energy and prevents destructive behaviors. If it is very cold outside, ensure that walks are kept short. Inside the house, make sure your dog is mentally stimulated by playing games with him and challenging him with interactive toys and puzzles.
2) Take Care of Your Dog's Joints
Cold winter weather can cause joint pain and discomfort; this is especially true in senior dogs or those with existing joint conditions such as hip dysplasia or arthritis.
It's important to provide a bed that properly supports his joints, and plenty of cozy bedding to keep him warm and comfortable. Make sure to place your dog's bed in a warm area of the house away from chilly drafts and cold floors.
Medication and supplements can be used to treat pain and inflammation and lubricate the joints to improve mobility. At home, you can treat joint pain by gently massaging the area and applying a warm compress. You may also consider adding other supplements like fish oil or coconut oil for dogs. Always remember to ask your veterinarian for more information about treating your dog's joint pain.
3) Keep Your Dog Warm
It's not just dogs with joint pain that should stay warm in winter; all dogs need protection from the cold weather. Wrap your dog up warm when you take him on his daily walk – winter clothes such as jackets are available for dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Earlier in this post we talked about the importance of limiting time outside with your dog and providing warm bedding in winter; frostbite is a real risk for dogs at this time of year – especially on the ears, paws, and tail, so always remember to keep your dog warm and never him in a cold place for too long.
4) Protect Your Dog's Paws
Cold, ice, and snow can cause your dog's paws to crack and bleed, so it's important to keep them clean, dry, and moisturized in winter. Rinse and dry your dog's paws after time spent outdoors, and apply a small amount of paw wax or petroleum jelly to soften them and prevent cracking.
If your dog is outside a lot in cold weather, it's a good idea to invest in some booties to protect his paws. Rinsing and drying paws or putting booties on your dog are also great ways to minimize the risk of exposure to harmful toxins such as ice melters. The chemicals used in these products are dangerous to dogs and can cause illness if ingested.
5) Watch Your Dog's Diet
Your dog's activity levels can decrease in winter – especially if it's too cold outside to take him for long walks. And if your dog is exercising less, he won't need as many calories to maintain a healthy body weight. Make sure to feed your dog a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet year-round, and adjust daily calories in line with his activity levels in the winter. Special organic dog supplements and even raw dog treats can be very helpful this time year.
Some dogs require more calories than others to stay fit and healthy in winter. If you're unsure about your dog's dietary requirements and activity levels, consult with your veterinarian to plan an appropriate diet for the winter months.
6) Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Many dogs tend to drink less during the winter, but it's just as important for them to stay hydrated during the winter months as it is at any time of year. Dehydration can cause health problems including skin irritation, loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting. In extreme cases, it can even be potentially life-threatening.
During the winter, always make sure that your dog has access to fresh drinking water. If he drinks from a bowl outside, check often to make sure that it doesn't ice over. It's also a good idea to keep a separate bowl of water inside the house to encourage your dog to drink more.
7) Keep Your Dog Away from Dangerous Areas
Our last winter dog care tip is to be extra vigilant when exercising your dog outside during winter, especially in unfamiliar areas that are potentially hazardous. Dogs love to explore and may venture onto frozen lakes and ponds that can crack and break beneath their weight.
If your dog falls through the ice, it can be extremely difficult to rescue him from the freezing water, so it's best to avoid areas that may be dangerous entirely. In fact, it's sensible to keep your dog away from all icy surfaces if possible; a trip or fall on a patch of ice can easily result in injury – and an expensive visit to your veterinarian.
We hope you found our winter dog care tips useful. Remember, winter can be a fun time of year for pets and people – so don't be afraid to get outside and enjoy this season with your pet.
Lots of dogs love to play in the snow, and most dogs will enjoy exploring the winter environment for short periods of time. If you're feeling cold, then your dog probably is too – so take it as a sign to head back inside the house where it's warm.
Please keep in mind that the harsh weather conditions at this time of year come with risks for your dog, so pay special attention to him in winter to make sure he remains happy, healthy, safe, and comfortable.
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