In the Chippewa Valley, cold weather is inevitable. You’ve winterized your house and your car, but is your dog ready for snow?
You can help Fido get through Wisconsin’s long winter months with these winter weather tips for dogs.
Know your dog’s cold weather tolerance
Some dogs absolutely love to play outside during the winter. They can’t wait to get outside and kick up some snow.
And yet other dogs will come outside just long enough for a potty break. Your dog’s breed plays a big role in their cold weather tolerance. A burly Siberian husky may tolerate the cold weather much differently than a petite short-haired chihuahua.
Age plays a role, too. As a rule of thumb, young puppies and senior dogs will be less tolerant to the cold.
Protect their paws
If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors this winter, dog booties are a good investment. It can take some time for your pooch to get used to wearing something on their paws, so be patient and offer lots of treats.
If your dog does go outdoors “barefoot,” be sure to wipe their paws off when they come back inside. Sidewalk salt and other de-icers can stick to the bottom of their paws. These chemicals can irritate your dog’s skin, and some are harmful if ingested.
Increase indoor enrichment
Dogs can get cabin fever, too. You can stave off boredom and undesirable behaviors by keeping your dog busy indoors. Be like this lucky dog and take a trip to Pet Food Plus (2819 E Hamilton Ave) to pick out some new toys and treats.
Choose the right outerwear
Some breeds, like Alaskan Malamutes, come with their own fur coats! But dogs with thin or short fur will need some help staying warm. There are dog sweaters and jackets for every budget, need, and fashion sense.
If you have a small house dog that stays in the yard for quick bathroom breaks, you can probably get away with a light sweater. If you plan to take your yellow lab to the Otter Creek Off-Leash Dog Park on a cold day, then you might want to pack a waterproof doggie jacket.
When you shop for a jacket or sweater, keep in mind how easy it will be to take off and on. Features like velcro or snaps can make a world of difference.
Know the signs of hypothermia
Hypothermia in dogs is a medical emergency. According to PetMD, initial signs that a dog has hypothermia include shivering, a lack of mental awareness, and weakness.
As the condition advances, a dog can experience muscle stiffness, appear in a stupor, and have shallow breathing.
If your dog shows signs of hypothermia, bring them inside to warm up and call your vet right away.
Adjust your dog’s diet as needed
If your dog spends more time indoors in the winter, that probably means they’re less active. They may need to consume fewer calories than in the summer. Keep an eye out for any weight gain, and adjust portion sizes as needed.
On the other hand, if your dog spends more time outdoors in the cold, they may actually need to eat more. Consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s weight.
In the Chippewa Valley, we can’t avoid winter so we might as well have fun. Just check out these #DogsofEauClaire living it up.
With a little preparation, you and your dog can make the most of winter, too.