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Winter can be a fun time for most dogs, especially those breeds that are used to cold temperatures. However, it’s important to remember that thick fur and a tolerance for cold doesn’t mean a pet should stay outside for prolonged periods of time, as dehydration, hypothermia, and frostbite can occur quickly when temperatures drop.
There are other dangers lurking outdoors for pets in the wintertime, as well, so it’s important to understand what the risks are so you can be prepared and able to keep your pet safe and happy. Here are a few of the best ways to do so.
Bulk up on food
When a pet spends time outside in the cold weather, he needs to eat and drink a little more in order to keep up the energy he burns staying warm. Make sure your dog eats enough protein and keep his water bowl filled, especially if he enjoys staying outside for extended periods of time. You might consider buying a heated water bowl to keep the supply from freezing up.
Change things around
Your home may need to undergo some small changes during winter months in order to keep your pet safe and warm. For instance, if he sleeps on a dog bed near a window, move the bed to a warmer spot. If such a change will bring on doggy anxiety, simply check the window to make sure there are no cracks which can let cold air stream in.
Space heaters can be a problem for pets during colder months, as they can be easily knocked over or cause burns. Be careful about where you put these heaters or consider placing a baby gate around the area.
Bundle him up
No matter how much your dog enjoys playing in the snow, exposure can be an issue. For small dogs and older pets, invest in a thick sweater or jacket to help them stay warm on even the coldest days. Create a nice warm spot for him to curl up in when he comes inside.
Watch for ice
Icy spots on sidewalks or on the road can be dangerous for pets, especially older dogs who may already have joint issues. Watch for ice when going on walks and steer clear of areas that haven’t been shoveled well. Stick to clear areas or head to the park, where the trails are usually safe.
Wipe him down
De-icer, salt, and antifreeze can be poisonous for dogs, so it’s important to wipe down their feet as soon as you come in from a walk to prevent them from licking those chemicals off. Use a warm washcloth to clean their paws and keep their sensitive pads healthy.
Keep him home
If you’re going on vacation to a cold climate, consider keeping your dog home with a sitter or boarder. For some pets, staying in a comfortable place is much safer than traveling to unfamiliar surroundings, even if there is some sadness connected to leaving them.
Written by guest contributor Janice Miller.