How to Keep your Pet Healthy in Winter
If you live in a colder climate, winter is mostly a time for staying in and staying warm. However, if you own a dog, you know that it often means bundling up and getting them out! Here are a few tips to keep your dogs healthy and happy as we move into the colder months.
Know their tolerance for cold
Just because dogs have fur coats, does not mean they are always going to be warm enough. It’s important to learn your dog’s tolerance for cold. Do they have a short coat? Are they close to the ground? If so, they will have less protection and more of them will come into contact with snow and ice meaning they will get colder more quickly than a bigger dog. Researching the tolerance of your dog’s breed before the winter can ensure you are both prepared!
Clean their paws
Running around in the snow can be great, but it can also be irritating on your dog’s paws. Ice, salt, and chemicals can cause bleeding and cracking of their pads. Make sure you wipe down your dog’s paws and stomach to remove all salt and ice buildup. If you are going on a long walk, bring a towel so you can wipe them down at the halfway mark to prevent any stinging or irritation during your adventure.
Keep an eye out for chemicals
Cleaning your dog’s paws so the salt doesn’t irritate their pads is only part of it. Wiping your pet’s feet, legs, tail, and stomach when back from your walk ensures they don’t have a chance to lick off any potential toxins that may have stuck on them. Antifreeze, chemicals used to melt snow, and those used to protect gardens in the winter are dangerous and toxic to pets. Antifreeze specifically has a sweet but deadly taste that can attract dogs. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic alternatives for pets and wildlife.
Monitor their food intake
Hundreds of years ago, it made sense to increase food intake during the colder months. This helped keep body fat up which in turn allowed us to stay warmer. Despite staying in warm homes all winter, we have brought some of these evolutionary habits into the present time and the same goes for dogs. Your dog might be asking for more food this winter, but if they aren’t spending much time outdoors, the added pounds will do more harm than good in the form of heart disease and high blood pressure. However, if they are getting a lot of outdoor exercises, it can be beneficial to slightly increase their food intake. Talk to your veterinarian to get an accurate estimate for your dog’s healthiest weight.
Winter Wellness Upkeep
The cold weather can exacerbate a few conditions such as arthritis and heart conditions. If your dog has diabetes, it can have a harder time regulating its body temperature and staying warm outside. Make sure your pet is getting their regular checkups to ensure everything is looking good so they can feel their best this winter!
Do you own horses?
If so, be sure they have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can have shelter from the wind and cold. While not all horses will need to be blanketed, blankets do help horses keep warm and dry, especially if there is any rain or snow. Remember to use heated buckets or water heaters/de-icers so your horses can access unfrozen water at all times. Lastly, it’s best to feed your horses unlimited forage as it will help your horses create heat and regulate their body temperatures during extreme cold.