With winter coming, it's important that as a pet owner, you know how to provide for the needs of your dog. Dogs are affected by winter weather just as much as you are, so there are some special care tips that your should know about. Here's how you can help your dog stay healthy this winter.
1. Watch out for dryness.
Does your skin and hair get drier in the the winter? Dryness is common because the winter air holds less moisture. Also, heating your home dries out the air as well. Your dog feels the effects of this dryness, and can become very uncomfortable with itchy, irritated skin. To help relieve dry skin, try to:
- bathe your dog as little as possible. Bathing can dry out the skin even more, especially if you use hot water. Save baths for when they are absolutely essential.
- add moisture. If you notice your dog has red or flaky patches under his or her coat, you can help moisturize by adding oils like tee tree or coconut to trap more moisture in.
- run a humidifier. You and your dog will both benefit from a little more water in the air. A humidifier is a great tool for combating the dry winter air.
Your dog will appreciate proper coat care. Even if you aren't bathing your dog as often, you should still make sure you're brushing regularly.
2. Protect the feet and warm the body.
Your might laugh when you see a dog walking outside with a pair of boots on, but winter roads can be harsh on a dog's feet. The salt from the roads dries out the foot pads and causes irritation and even pain. In icy conditions, small ice crystals can also cause discomfort during walks. Whether your dog is large or small, wearing foot protection can help protect against the cold and keep your dog's feet from becoming damaged.
You also might think that your dog does not need any clothing besides a their own furry coat, but sometimes, a dog will need a little extra padding. If you have a short-haired dog, consider putting your pet in a sweater on cold days. Small dogs also get colder faster and need extra clothing for cold weather. Large dogs like St Bernards and huskies with heavy coats may not need extra coverings -- in fact, they probably enjoy winter weather more than any other weather.
If you have a have a dog that does not shed, like a poodle, allow your dog to keep a longer coat in the winter. Do not do close-to-skin haircuts when it is cold. Your dog needs that hair to stay warm.
3. Provide adequate nutrition.
Some dogs might actually need more food than normal during the winter time. This is especially true if your dog is a working dog. For example, if you bring your dog with you each day to work the cattle farm or to hunt, you should bring increased food. Dogs burn more calories to stay warm in winter, and in order to keep up their stamina, they'll need a little extra.
Don't forget that dehydration can also be a problem in winter. Bring water with you on your walks.
4. Stay in when it is too cold.
As a general rule, when it is too cold for you to feel comfortable outside even when you're wearing good winter gear, it's too cold for your dog. Don't allow your dog to stay outside without any shelter from the cold. If your dog lives outdoors, make sure the dog house has a heat source and that your pet can always access it.
Talk to your veterinarian for more tips on keeping your dog healthy this winter.