Dogs love walks, no matter what the temperature is outside. While you might prefer to curl up with a blanket and hot drink when it’s cold, your furry friends will still need to stretch their legs throughout the winter months. However, prolonged winter walks could be dangerous for your pup if you don't take the proper precautions.
Not all dogs can adapt well or easily to cold weather, and this can be dependent on their coat thickness, age, and overall health. This article will address winter safety tips for your dogs and give you some awesome ideas for fun activities you can enjoy together.
How to Tell if it’s Safe for Your Dog To Play in the Cold and Snow
Not all dog breeds are the same. While some love snow and cope well with sub-zero temperatures, others prefer warmer environments. So, how can you tell if it is safe for your dog to play in cold, snowy weather?
Keep an eye on your dog's energy levels and body language. A cold dog will behave sluggishly and start shivering, perhaps even whining and lifting its paws to get them out of the cold snow. Pay particular attention to older dogs or young puppies, as they can quickly take a turn for the worse in cold temperatures.
Watch how excited your pup behaves when outside. If your dog is eager to jump around in the snowy conditions, they're probably okay. Wagging tails and animated barking means they're not ready to call it quits—even if you're impatient to go inside. Even the most snow-loving dog should probably not stay out too much longer than 30 minutes in the snow without protection on their paws.
Some cold-averse dogs will prefer not to be outside when temperatures fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and experts agree that below 20 degrees Fahrenheit could be dangerous for the majority of dog breeds (with the exception of the most cold-hardy dogs who are bred to survive and thrive in sub-zero temps).
Is Snow Safe for Your Dog?
As a dog owner, there are a few factors to consider to keep your dog safe in the snow.
- Type of snow: Fresh and powdery snow is typically safe for most dogs. However, hard, packed, dense snow might irritate your dog's paw pads when they walk on it without dog boots. If there are lakes in your neighborhood, be careful when letting your dog walk on any ice that has accumulated. Thin ice could obviously be extremely dangerous if it breaks. Get dog boots to protect your pup's paws during freezing temperatures.
- Chemicals: While laying down rock salt and other ice-melting chemicals, such as antifreeze, can prevent humans and cars from skidding around, it could harm cats and dogs. Keep your pet away from treated surfaces during the winter months. Use antifreeze containing propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
- Dog coat: Your dog's coat will impact how they deal with the cold weather. Many dogs with thick, insulating fur coats will be okay in the snow. However, dogs with thinner coats or short hair may struggle to stay warm and be more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.
When your dog's body temperature drops, it may affect its immune system or their respiratory system. Senior dogs are even more at risk of these temperature-related problems.
Exercises For Cold Weather
Just like people, there are some dogs that prefer to be active and others that want to cuddle and sleep. Either way, it’s essential that all dogs get exercise, and we found some great ideas to keep them active!
For the less active dog, these tips from the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan are great for keeping your furry friend in tip-top shape over the winter.
If your larger dog loves to run or pull, why not pick up a new sport that you can enjoy together? There are several activities that are perfect for the cold and snow, such as sled dog racing, skijoring (where your dog pulls you on skis), mushing, and trail running. For all of these sports, you’ll want to have the proper gear for both you and your furry athlete.
Neewa is a great resource for all of the accessories and equipment you’ll need to outfit your dog for cold weather, coming from the experienced mushers that developed the products with Neewa! Also, if your dog is new to these cold-weather, highly aerobic activities, it’s best to start them gradually. It’s important that they slowly get acclimated to both the exercise and the cold temperatures. You don't want to your furry friend to start pulling for the first time in extremely low temperatures!
10 Fantastic Tips for Dogs in Cold and Snow
You can still take your dogs outside when temperatures drop. However, you should take precautions and use these top tips to look after your dogs in the winter months.
1. Keep Your Dog's Home Humidified
Coming out of the cold into a dry house after a short walk can cause itchy, flaking skin. Make sure your home is humid, and towel dry your pup after he’s been playing in the snow. Take care to dry any snowballs hiding under the paw pads and in between your dog's toes.
2. Gradually Acclimate Your Dog to the Cold
Like us, most dogs don't like getting thrust into cold weather straightaway. Abrupt temperature changes can hurt your dog's health. When the temperature drops, ease your dog into the colder weather with short walks.
3. Don't Shave Your Dog During the Winter
Many animals grow winter coats to protect themselves from the cold. A longer coat will help your dog cope better in cold weather. Trim your dog's hair to minimize clinging ice balls, salt crystals, and chemicals that can dry their skin. If you have a short-haired dog, consider getting them a Neewa snow coat to keep them warm.
4. Bathe Your Pets as Little as Possible
Washing your pooch too often can eliminate essential oils that protect their skin and your dog might develop flaky, irritated, dry skin. If you need to bathe your pet, speak to your vet about any recommended moisturizing shampoos and take extra care to dry your dog thoroughly.
5. Make Sure Your Pup Has a Warm Place to Sleep
Ensure your dogs have a warm place to sleep. Their bed should be off the floor and away from all drafts. A dog bed with warm blankets and pillows will keep them from getting too cold. Try Neewa’s Tre Di™ Outdoor Dog Bed to keep them warm and cozy during snowy weather.
6. Protect Your Dog by Having the Correct Equipment
Look after your leather leashes, harnesses, and collars to prevent them from cracking and splitting. Regular cleaning and conditioning should keep leather equipment in good shape during cold weather. Keep any metal leash snaps and safety clips indoors to prevent them from sticking.
Ensure your dogs have all the right equipment. Invest in Cordura dog boots, coats, or other warm clothing to keep them safe in the snow.
7. Wax Your Dog's Paws
Rubbing petroleum jelly or wax into your dog's paws before they go outside can protect them from rock salt or the harsh chemicals found in antifreeze. Otherwise, salt can get lodged in between their toes and irritate them.
8. Give Your Dog the Appropriate Caloric Intake for Winter
While your dogs may have regularly scheduled meal times most of the year, they need more energy in cold weather. Dogs burn more energy trying to keep warm. Don't worry about them putting on a little weight; they'll need the extra padding to stay healthy.
9. Hydrate Your Dog
Ensuring your dog drinks plenty of water will keep them healthy and hydrated. It will also protect their skin from dryness and prevent them from eating snow to self-hydrate.
10. Don't Skip Exercise and Training With Your Dog on Cold Days
Remember, if it's too cold for you outside, it's probably too cold for your dog. However, don't skip exercise or training, because it’s crucial for your dog’s mental, physical, and emotional health.
Winter months are fun and exciting for both people and their pets. But you should always take precautions to make sure that your pup stays happy and healthy during the colder months.
Try to implement the practical tips we’ve discussed, from putting dog booties on their feet to keeping them hydrated. Check out our high-quality dog accessories to help you have fun with your furry friend in the winter wonderland.