Winterize that Pup! Winter Safety Tips for Dogs

dog in sweater in snow

When the temp drops and the snow falls, our four-legged friends still want to check out the sights, sounds, and smells of their winter world. Most won’t be satisfied with a quick “business trip”—even in single digits, pups want pleasure, too! Following these winter safety tips for dogs will keep them safe and warm while they play (and plow) through the chilly months ahead.

Take time to reflect. Dusk creeps in by late afternoon, and a reflective leash, collar, or vest, or an LED collar light, provide an inexpensive and easy way to make sure your pooch is visible to cars, bikers, and even other doggy/human duos. Grab reflective gear or a headlamp for yourself, too—smartphone lights are bright, but a free hand for safety is better!

Slip ‘n slides are for summer. Start slow and don’t tackle treacherous terrain. Many dogs can be nimble in slippery situations, but not inexperienced pups or wary seniors. Try protective booties if your dog will tolerate them; introduce them inside to let him or her acclimate. And non-skid footwear is a must for you. If you go down hard while hanging onto a leash, you could both be injured.

Avoid paw pain. Snow is a ball to romp in, but not so fun when frozen in their paws. Besides those painful ice balls, slush and salt can mix with dirt to make for a gritty, irritating layer on toes, tails, and tummies. Do more than just a towel off—dip frosty paws in lukewarm soapy water and give their undercoat and tail a thorough rinse (or wash). Stick to pet-safe salt on your own driveway and walkway—not only is it kinder on their feet, it’s also non-toxic if ingested.

Layers are key. Just like we bundle up in down to survive the chill, adding a coat to your canine will help them preserve body heat and keep them dry and cozy.

Hydrate inside and out. Dry winter air steals moisture from everywhere and your pet is no exception. Encourage extra water consumption, prevent cracked noses with a protective ointment, and keep paw pads from splitting by coating with a barrier wax.

Wind chill out. If the outside air is so frigid that humans are advised to limit exposure to 10-15 minutes, the same goes for your pet. And make it even less for tiny ones, young pups, and elderly ladies and gents—sometimes a quick potty is all they can handle!

And if you just can’t handle the cold? If you can’t (ahem—don’t want to) take ’em out yourself but they still need stimulation, here are some indoor ideas:

  • Visit local places your dog is welcome indoors, from shops to taprooms and more.
  • Check out local doggy daycare options. Some even offer drop-in play times if your pooch just needs an hour or so.
  • Provide plenty of toys that stimulate both brains and bodies for those cabin-fever stretches.
  • Dogs really can learn to trek on a treadmill. Teach them to use yours, or invest in a smaller model specially designed for canines.

Keep your dogs close, warm, and protected throughout the winter, and before you know it, the season of muddy paws will have sprung—and you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the white stuff!

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