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. Nothing more fun than splashing your mama with nice muddy puddle water!
Just like in summer, winter comes with its own set of hazards, and we’ve pulled together some tips on how to get your dog ready for the colder months.
Vaccines and anti-parasite treatments
Between March to October we need to be particularly attentive to external and internal parasites, but creepy crawlies are living longer these days so we shouldn’t drop our guard in winter. As a rule, anti-parasite treatments (oral or collars) should be carried out every 3 months or so to keep our furry friends safe from external bugs such as fleas, ticks or mosquitos.
In addition to that, you should take some time this winter to make sure your dog’s vaccines are up to date and get a session booked in with your vet ahead of the post-Christmas rush.
In winter, dogs can sometimes catch a disease commonly referred to as ‘kennel cough’. The fancy term for this is canine infectious tracheobronchitis and, as the name suggests, it is a highly infectious disease passed from dog to dog. It’s common for doggos who have recently been rescued from a dog shelter, or those who have spent the Christmas holidays in kennels.
It’s easy to protect against with an intranasal vaccine administered by your vet which will start protecting your dog four days after its application.
Healthy, nourishing winter food
Feeding your little beast is more than just satisfying its appetite: in winter a healthy diet of their usual favourites, plus handfuls of seasonal veg as treats will boost their immune defences, and make their fur denser, healthier and shinier. A core combination to keep them from catching a winter sniffle.
Also, if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies in spring, winter is the perfect time to prepare their immune system. Introduce products rich in fatty acids, like Omega 3, into their die. One tin of low-salt sardines in olive oil (drained) per week, or a piece of lightly cooked salmon will be enough to yield results in the short to medium term. You can read more about allergies in one of our past posts, here.
Take special care of their foot pads
Although most pup’s foot pads are dark and coarse in appearance, they are actually very vulnerable and in the winter specifically can suffer cracks or even frostbite. Try to avoid prolonged periods in the snow or ice with your pooch. If you can’t avoid it, and their pads need a little love, you can find a variety of protective gels, roll-on sticks, sprays, and creams on trusty old Amazon.
And while it might sound weird, if you’re planning on spending the day out in the snow, we also recommend you pop some sunscreen on the unprotected parts of your dog’s body, such as their snout, belly, any scars or hairless parts.
Winter clothing for dogs
Depending on your dog’s breed, you may need to use suitable winter clothing to protect them from the cold. In general, Northern dogs and their cross-breeds (Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Samoyed or Akita Inu), or spitz-like dogs (Akita Inu, Shiba Inu or Pomeranian), won’t need more clothing than their own fur. This is because they’ve got a double layer of fur; their top later, and a cotton-like undercoat which they shed in warmer seasons.
There are loads of breeds who are “cold-natured”; Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Yorkies, or any type of Greyhound. Barkbox have created a list, alongside photos of cute dogs in jumpers of doggo’s who would rather be inside in the winter months. For these breeds, you can fashion an outfit from an old jumper if you are crafty. Or if you’re like us and have no idea how to work a sewing machine, you can take a look at the Independent’s list of top dog clothing brands.
What we do recommend for all types of dogs (cold-natured or not) is to protect them from the rain with a raincoat. Getting wet and dry several times a day is bad for their immune system, so button them up.
Clean your dog’s paws after walk in the rain or snow
On that subject, try to get into the habit of drying your dog with a towel or hairdryer when you come back from a rainy walk. Also, clean their paws thoroughly when you get home to prevent the build up of fungus and likelihood of infection. Your carpets will thank us.
You can buy paw cleaning wipes/sprays in pet shops, or you can make your own using a mixture of water and PH-neutral soap in a spray and a little washing mitt.
What if your dog won’t go out in the rain?
If your dog doesn’t like being outside in the rain, we’ve come up with a bunch of fun games you can play together inside to keep them active and entertained.
It’s important to keep them in the habit of doing their business outside though, otherwise they can develop smelly new indoor habits. Our friend at Vet Street have a bunch of tips to help you encourage your dog to go outside in poor weather.
Some additional advice:
- Try not to change your dog’s walking time habits too much. Dogs are creatures of habit and routine.
- Don’t cut your dog’s fur during winter, except for locks on their bottoms, or those which obscure their vision.
- Don’t put your dog’s bed near a radiator or fireplace if they’re not used to it; sudden temperature changes could make them sick.
- Buy a light for your dogs collar which will help you locate them when they’re off the lead in the park.
Now, get your warmest jumpers on and get out there with you pooch!!