Cold Dog Paws

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This article was written for Pet Guardian Angels of America by Mikkie Mills

 

Taking Care of Your Dog In Cold Weather

When the weather gets cold, you probably know how to take care of yourself. But, do you know
how to take care of your furry best friend? Their needs during cold weather are more similar to
your own than you might imagine. As your pet’s caretaker, it is up to you to make sure they have
what they need to survive and be comfortable when it is cold and wet outside. Here are some
things you should know to help you care for your pet when it is cold outside.

Protect Those Paws

Chances are good that if you have any snow or freezing recently, then there is salt or chemicals
on the road to help the ice melt. These chemicals can irritate your dog’s feet. When you come if
from a walk, make sure to wipe off his paws with a warm, damp rag. Even if it was only wet
outside, you should still wipe off his paws to make sure the dampness doesn’t cause him
problems. Be sure to get between his toes as salt and moisture can hide there. Before going
out, it may be a good idea to wipe down his pads with petroleum jelly to protect them against
moisture.

Dry Them Off

Not only should you dry off your cat or dog’s feet when they come in from the cold, you should
also dry their coats. Salt, mud and moisture can all collect in his coat and cause him problems.
Dirt, grime and moisture can irritate his skin. Wet fur is also pretty unpleasant in the cold. And
while giving him a bath to wash out the dirt might seem like a good idea, bathing your pet during
cold weather is not good for him. It can upset the natural oils of his coat which he needs for
protection against the elements.

Off the Floor

Unless you have floors with radiant heating, your floors are likely to be pretty cold in the winter.
Don’t make your pet lay there. Consider investing in one of those propane heaters for homes,
as well as a bed or rug to lay on. Also, make sure he is away from drafts and the door where
wet boots may leave icy puddles. You may also want to give him a blanket to burrow into.

Stay Inside

Obviously, your pet will have to go out sometimes to relieve himself. You might even take him
out for exercise. Do not spend too long out in the cold, however. Even if you could handle taking
a longer hike, your pet may not be up to long exposure to the cold. And if your pet normally
stays outdoors, you might consider bringing him in while the weather is especially biting. When
it is not too cold, make sure he has a dry shelter with plenty of warm bedding.

Plenty of Food and Water

Just because it isn’t hot outside doesn’t mean your pet can’t dehydrate. Make sure he has
plenty of water. Also consider giving him a little extra food as his body will be burning extra
calories just trying to stay warm.

If It’s Too Cold for You . . .

Use common sense. If you do not want to go outside, why would your buddy? Did you see him
shivering when you took him out for a walk? Does he seem reluctant? Pay attention to the
signs. He will let you know if he wants to go out. And he will let you know when he is ready to
come in.

When the weather is cold, you have a responsibility to look after your pet.   Make sure that he is
protected from the outdoor irritants that the cold weather brings. Keep him warm and dry and
make sure he has plenty to eat and drink and you will both get through the cold snap comfortably.

Mikkie Mills, is a freelance writer who often writes about family, home improvements and the occasional DIY project.