Winter Tips for Your Dog

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

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Winter is just around the corner. It’s time for a shopping trip to get the winter supplies for your furry friend. Large, hairy dogs with thick skin aren’t as vulnerable to freezing temperatures and snow as smaller, short-haired dogs. Toy dogs are especially susceptible to becoming chilled. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), short-haired pets and short-legged pets get chilled more easily and dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or Cushing’s disease. Puppies and very old dogs are more sensitive to cold weather too.

Winter Supplies to Buy Now

Many retailers, both locally and online, offer a wide variety and sizes of winter gear for your dog/dogs. Several of these products are especially important in areas that receive lots of snow.

  • Sweaters – store-bought or knitted by hand
  • Boots – available in sizes to fit most dogs
  • Winter coat – insulated, if you received lots of snow
  • Snowsuit – a must for breeds like Whippets, Chihuahuas, and Chinese Crested dog
  • Heated bed or heated blanket – your floors are the coldest part of your house

Many pet owners are talented and purchase fleece fabric to make winter jackets, blankets, snowsuits for their furry friends. While cats probably won’t tolerate a sweater or jacket, they will welcome a small blanket for cuddling. You can even recycle your old sweaters and jackets into winter gear with these ideas from iheartdogs.com.

Winter Gear You Haven’t Thought About

Winter days are shorter. It’s usually dark for early morning, late afternoon, and the last run of the night. For added safety, consider these extras:

  • LED light to attach to Fido’s collar
  • LED-lit dog collar
  • Reflective harness

Keeping Your Dog Warm and Safe

WebMD for Pets urges dog owners to use good judgment during the winter. Even with a warm winter jacket and boots, your dog’s ears, nose, and eyes are exposed to the cold and wind. It’s best not to leave them unsupervised in extremely cold, windy conditions. These sensible tips will help keep your pet warm.

  • Limit time outdoors when it’s freezing.
  • Feed your dog more protein and fat to help keep his coat healthy and thick.
  • Wipe his paws if he’s not wearing boots to remove toxic chemicals like salt and anti-freeze.
  • Don’t leave him alone in a car. They cool down quickly.
  • Space heaters and dogs are a dangerous combination because of the tip-over risk.
  • Bring your pet indoors if he’s shivering, whines, or gets caked with ice.

Our dogs are part of our families. Sometimes, they are so much more. Some dogs that protect our livestock. Service dogs may lead their owners through city streets or accompany your child to school to alert for seizures or low blood sugar.

According to Animal Planet, working dogs who must remain outside to protect sheep, goats, or cows need a well-insulated dog house and access to fresh water (many heated water bowls are available).

Winter doesn’t need to a season to limit outdoor activities for your favorite furry friend. Your dog, no matter what size or breed, can be outfitted with the appropriate gear and accompany you on family outings. Sweaters can be fancy for a poodle or Yorkie and utilitarian for a lab or Doberman. Boots come in every size and for various purposes, from being in deep snow to walking on city sidewalks. For extreme winter climates, an insulated coat made of rain resistant fabric is the best choice. It’s probably best to limit outdoor winter time for Chihuahuas, greyhounds, whippets, Chinese crested dogs, Manchester terriers, and Salukis. Be sure to remember your mixed breed dogs too. Any slender built dog with a short coat needs extra protection against cold, wintry blasts.

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