Author: Admin   Date Posted:3 June 2015 

To ensure you keep your furry friend cozy and warm, here are 5 tips to help you plan for the cold days ahead.

5 Steps to keeping your dog warm during winter months

Those winter months can be bitter and long.  Sometimes we forget, but proper care for your pet during those cold months is critical to their health and wellbeing.  Just like humans they can get frostbite, respiratory infections from the damp air, and freeze in the extreme elements.  To ensure you keep your furry friend cozy and warm, here are 5 tips to help you plan for the cold days ahead.

1.  Understand your breed’s particular vulnerabilities. 

Remember, not all dogs are created equal.  Some breeds were made for cold weather, and some were not.  Breeds such as the Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Chow Chows have thick coats of hair that act as insulation in the cold.  They were built and bread for freezing weather.  On the other hand, breeds such as Dobermans, toy dogs, and Greyhounds are not built for such harsh elements.  They have a much finer and short coat of hair that provides much less insulation. 
Knowing your particular breed’s cold tolerance is important as you monitor the temperatures during the winter months.  Veterinary experts suggest to bring all pets inside when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and short-haired pets should come inside any time the temperature goes below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Ensure adequate shelter. 

As mentioned above, if the weather gets too cold, it is always the best option to bring your dog inside, but if this option is not available, it is important to make sure your pet has suitable shelter to protect them from the elements. 
Optimal outdoor shelter for you dog can vary, but generally contains most if not all of the following features.  A sloped and shingled roof is imperative to keep rain and snow from building up and leaking into the structure.  The house should have well-built and insulated walls with no cracks or holes.  Siding on the house is ideal as well.  If possible, create a cover over the door such as a hanging towel or clothe to block wind gusts.  The basic idea is to ensure the house is able to remain dry and protected from rain, wind, and snow penetrating the structure. 

3.  Make sure your pet’s house has proper and well placed bedding.

For particularly cold regions it is wise to provide a heating source such as a heating pad.  Fresh straw provides a great layer of insulation for the floor, but should be changed out regularly.  Custom-made dog beds with cushioned insert, blankets, and old clothing make good, warm bedding as well.  Bedding can often get piled up in a corner or moved out of the house.  Check it often to ensure it is providing comfort as intended during cold temperature.  Additionally, it is important to clean and change the bedding regularly to reduce fleas, germs, and dirt.

4.  Utilize canine clothing options.

Many canine clothing options can be made or found at your local pet store.  These clothes are particularly beneficial for toy dog breeds and short-haired breeds.   Dogs are just like humans.  If you notice them shivering, it’s a good sign that they are cold, and could use a sweater or cover to warm them when venturing outside in the cold.  A trick we recommend is to put your dog's sweater in the dryer for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the sweater to be nice and warm for your dog before they go outside.

5.  Ensure proper grooming and care during winter months.

One key to warmth during winter months is to avoid trimming and shaving your dog’s fur or hair.  The full weight of their coat is important to provide proper insulation from wind and cold. 
Make sure to continue with a consistent grooming regimen during the winter as well.  Brush your dog’s coat to keep it from getting matted down, and thus not providing the appropriate insulation.  Trim the hair around your pet’s paws to keep snow and ice from balling up on their feet.  And give your dog weekly indoor baths with warm water.  However, make sure you dog is completely dry before returning outdoors.
In addition to grooming, make sure your dog has access to clean unfrozen water, access to food in a sheltered area, and if needed speak to your veterinarian about any recommendations for medications or treatments that may be needed to aide problems exacerbated by the cold such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Remember that even though walks may be shorter during the winter months it is still important to ensure your pet keeps exercising by increasing the amount of time you play with them indoors.
By following these 5 recommendations you will ensure your family’s dog stays healthy and warm during those harsh and cold months.  Winter is a fun time to be a dog owner, but always remember to keep an eye on the temperature.  If it’s too cold for you to stay outside for long periods of time, it’s probably too cold for your pet as well.

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