Dogs, just like people, more or less enjoy certain seasons of the year depending on their activity, fur, breed or even their owner’s mood during each season.
Although some dogs would gladly get under the covers from late September until the first rays of sun reappear in March, others enjoy the winter months just like children do – rain, snow, sleet or hail.
As guardians of our dogs’ wellbeing, we must take into account the fact that, in the winter just like in the summer, certain precautions are to be taken in order to ensure our best friend’s healthiness and happiness.
Vaccines and anti-parasite treatments
Although the warmer months (from March to October) are when one should be particularly attentive as regards external and internal parasites, we shouldn’t drop our guard in winter. As a rule, anti-parasites treatments should be carried out on a quarterly, basis with the help of pipettes or anti-parasite collars, to keep our furry friends from external bugs such as fleas, ticks or mosquitos. In addition to that, winter is a good time to get your dog’s health record booklet back out and check if all vaccines are up to date.
Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough
In winter, dogs can sometimes catch a disease commonly referred to as kennel cough. As the name suggests, it is a highly infectious disease and very common in dogs which have spent the Christmas holiday in a kennel or which have just left the dog shelter.
If your dog is in contact with a group of dogs this winter and you’re not sure whether they are vaccinated against this disease, take the necessary steps in advance and ask your vet to vaccinate your dog against kennel cough: it’s an intranasal vaccine that will start protecting your dog on day four after its application. Read more information about this in our article on kennel cough.
A healthy diet
Feeding your little beast is more than just satisfying its appetite: in winter, a healthy diet can help your dog from catching diseases, as its immune defences will get stronger and its fur denser, healthier and shinier – a suitable intake of calories and proteins are key to spending a good winter.
If your dog suffers from seasonal allergies in spring, winter is the perfect time to prepare its immune system, starting by introducing products rich in fatty acids, like Omega 3, in its diet. Those include for instance fish like sardine or salmon. One tin of low-salt sardines in olive oil (drained) per week, or a piece of lightly cooked salmon a la plancha, will be enough to yield results in the short to medium term.
Take care of its foot pads
Somehow, we always seem to forget our dog’s foot pads. Although they are dark and coarse in appearance, they are actually very vulnerable and could suffer from damages, cracks or frostbites, depending on the weather conditions. Just like in summer we would look out for our dog’s pads because they could get burnt on the pavement, we must take the same precaution in the winter if we live in an area with ice or snow.
On Amazon for instance, you will find protective gels, creams, roll-on sticks, sprays and also repairing sprays and creams with Aloe Vera if the pads are already damaged. Do have a look!
If you’re planning on spending the day out in the snow, we also recommend you protect your canine friend from UV rays using a sunscreen on the unprotected parts of its body like the snout, belly, or any part without hair, or with scars.
Winter clothing: Yes or No?
Depending on your dog’s breed, you may need to use suitable winter clothing to protect it from the cold. In general, northern dogs and their cross-breeds, like the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Samoyed or Akita Inu, or spitz-like dogs such as the Akita Inu, Shiba Inu or Pomeranian, won’t need more clothing than their own fur which is composed of two layers. This undercoat which protects them is cotton-like and will be shed in warmer seasons, and regrown when the cold days come.
There is such a thing as “cold-natured” dogs – those who wouldn’t mind a nice jumper or a coat when they go outside: teckels, chihuahuas, yorkies, or any type of greyhound. For these breeds, you can fashion an outfit from an old jumper or sweater if you are good with needles, or you can have a look at our favourite designs here: Pepito&Co. They are the kings of jumper-knitting and coat-making for our fluffy friends. What’s more, their designs are unique and all clothes are sustainably and organically made.
What we do recommend for all types of dogs, cold-natured or not, is to protect them from the rain with a raincoat. Why not get creative and make it yourself?
Clean its paws after a rainy walk
Get into the habit of drying your dog with a towel or hairdryer when you come back from a rainy walk, and clean its paws when you get home. Not only will it stop your dog from making the floor, bed or couch dirty (if allowed to climb there!): but it will also prevent it from catching infections and fungus.
In order to do this, you can prepare a mixture of water and Ph-neutral soap in a spray and use a washing mitt that you can find in any big super market. You can also buy paw cleaning wipes in pet supplies shops.
Read more about our home grooming tips here!
And if my dog won’t go out in the rain?
Even if a dog doesn’t go out in the street to run, play or walk, it will have to keep its mind busy in order not to stress out of boredom and start getting up to mischief.
The best way to wear a dog out is to offer it challenges with problems to be solved, or for instance preparing olfactory games.
Some additional advice:
- Try not to change your dog’s walking time habits with respect to summer/autumn.
- Don’t cut your dog’s hair at that time of the year (except for locks that prevent it from seeing or bottom locks).
- Air its bed, but don’t put it near a radiator or fireplace: sudden temperature changes could get your dog sick.
- If you let your dog loose in the street or in parks, do it with an illuminating collar/pendant to keep your dog located at all times.
Now indeed… winter is coming!