Winter is Coming! – 3 Simple Hacks to Prepare Your Pooch for a Happy Winter
Winter is coming, and Westeros isn’t the only place where there’s much to prepare for. While winters are considered a healthy season overall, there are some key things to ensure our dawgies are energetic and agile even during the freezing cold temperatures.
Something you hear quite frequently, “How cold is too cold for my dog?”. Dr. Susan Nelson from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Pet Health Center answers, “A general rule of thumb is if it is too cold for you outside, it is too cold for your dog”.
To prepare your furry babies for winter correctly, it’s important to understand what issues trouble dogs during the colder season. Only when you know the problem, you can take steps to prevent it.
Common Dog Problems During Winters
- Respiratory infections are common for dogs in winter as they are for humans. A steep drop in the temperature could result in several ailments among pets such as fever, cough, constant sneezing, and nose discharge. During this season, dogs stay mostly indoors and lack of fresh air could increase the chances of allergies. Dawgies with shorter snouts, like Pugs, Shih Tzus, Maltese, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, and some Mastiffs are at particularly higher risk. ALSO SEE: Brachycephalic syndrome
- Unless your dog is one of the mountain or snow breeds like Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, St. Bernard, Chow Chow or one of their mixes, the fur on his skin is not enough to withstand freezing temperatures, particularly not if it has been soaked by water due to rain or any playful activity. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures could lead to hypothermia or even pneumonia, which could be fatal to dawgies. Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Doberman Pinschers, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Great Danes are more vulnerable.
- If you know anyone who suffers from arthritis or another chronic joint disease, you understand the pain that winters bring along. The story with dogs is no different. Winters are hard for dogs with cases of osteoarthritis or other defects of bones, joints or muscles like elbow or hip dysplasia. Breeds that are most affected are German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Rottweilers, Mastiffs and Bernards. The problems worsen with growing age. ALSO SEE: How to Calculate your Dawgie’s Age?
- Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and/or snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. My previous post talks about skin issues in detail: Your complete guide to skin problems in dawgies
How to Winter-Proof your Dog
Now that we understand the common winter problems in dawgies, let’s look at how we can prevent them. Winter-care for dawgies involve 3 major aspects: Shelter, Exercise and Food.
Dogs spend a lot of time in their bed, more during winters than the rest of the year. It’s important that the place they sleep and rest for most part of the day is clean and hygienic.
- Check the place where the dog rests daily to make sure it is dry and there are no water leaks. Wet and cold are far more dangerous than dry cold. Also check the bedding is warm and dry. A dog lying on soiled bedding will quickly develop sores and infected patches of skin.
- Clean and change bedding regularly. This will reduce fleas, germs, and mess. This is especially important over the winter, when insects look for any warm places they can find.
- This is especially important for old and arthritic dogs. Consider using a heated dog bed or a hot water bottle. Once the dog realizes how nice and snuggly a heated bed feels, most accept it and even look forward to being tucked in at night.
- Keeping sick pets dry and warm is obviously as important as it is for hoomans.
Irrespective of the time and season, ensure that dogs have enough clean and fresh air to breathe. Socializing, training and exercising your furry baby is an effective way to do so. Winters are great for outdoor activities because dogs don’t run the risk of heat strokes compared to the summer season. But few simple tips would make sure your dog’s outdoor experiences are always happy ones.
- Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going out on walks helps to protect against harmful infections that might get into their body from their paws. And moisturizing after a good toweling off helps to heal chapped paws.
- Brushing your pet regularly not only gets rid of dead hair, but also stimulates blood circulation, improving the skin’s overall condition. This helps to deal with the cold even better.
- Unless your dog has a natural winter coat, like a Husky or Newfie, wrap that pup up! Find a coat designed to keep them warm while not limiting mobility. Do watch for choking hazards, such as buttons while picking coats and sweaters. Ensure they are made of breathable fabrics that doesn’t irritate the dog. Regularly washing and changing the clothes will ensure your dawgie’s hygiene and prevent infections.
- If your pet is used to going on walks without a leash, please make sure he has a reflective/glowing collar, so he’s visible to commuters even in fog and mist and doesn’t get hurt accidentally.
One of the most important considerations for proper winter care for your baby is his food. Dogs prepare for winters naturally by switching to a thicker coat before winters. This is why you notice excessive shedding in the months immediately before winters, along with considerable weight gain in certain breeds. The dietary modifications in your dawgie’s diet should support the changes in his body.
- Ensure that the serving size is adjusted according to your dog’s modified activity levels during winters. Too much food, and he’ll gain weight. Too little, and he won’t have enough calories to spend.
- Adequate water to drink is must. Regardless of the temperature, a dog needs to stay hydrated, even when they are cold.
- We’ve already established that skin problems are at their prime during winters. Issues like dry or flaking skin, or chapped paws are common in colder season. It’s important that your dog’s diet has an abundance of fatty acids during winters to keep his skin and coat conditioned.
- Dawgies should receive all essential Vitamins and Minerals as per their Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) to ensure a fully functional and healthy immune system which helps them fight off any infections that they’re subjected to during the season.
- Dogs suffering from joint diseases should be given special care during the winter season. Their food should be supplemented with natural anti-inflammatory substances to reduce the swelling and pain out of swelling in their joints.
DawgieBowl offers 100% natural, custom diets that are rich in Vitamins, Minerals and essential fatty acids for a healthy and happy winter dog. Our unique herbal formula gives our food antiparasitic, antimicrobial, anthelminthic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anticarcinogenic, antianemic, and antianxiety properties.
Confused about your dawgie’s winter diet? Talk to us today! 9452 666 222 or [email protected]
Cover Photo Credits: NBC News
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