Tips to Help Your Dog Get Ready for Winter

Winter often brings colder temperatures and elements like wind, sleet and snow. But that doesn’t mean you and your dog have to hibernate until spring. Here are some things you can do to help prepare your dog for winter and keep him happy, healthy and active during the colder months.

Help Prepare Your Dog for Winter Weather

Dog cuddling with woman reading tablet

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Get ready for more quality time inside.

Your snow- and cold-weather-loving dog may not seem to want to come inside, but that doesn’t mean you should leave him outdoors all day to play — we don’t advocate keeping any dog outside all the time. Any dog can suffer from frostbite or hypothermia. Talk with your veterinarian about how long your individual dog can safely play outside, and then plan to spend some quality time with your dog indoors.

Winter Dog Walks Dog in Coat

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Consider a coat.

There are a few kinds of dogs who can benefit from a sweater or coat while outside. Dogs with short legs, like a Basset Hound or Corgi, may benefit from clothing to keep them warm, because their stature puts them in closer contact with snow. Dogs with a thin body type, like Greyhounds or Whippets, especially those with short fur, may benefit from a coat. Additionally, certain health conditions can make it difficult for affected dogs to regulate their body temperatures, so a sweater or coat for those pets couldn’t hurt.

Walking Dog in Winter

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Learn how to walk safely in winter weather.

Walking your dog in winter doesn’t have to be miserable or unsafe, provided you take proper precautions to protect yourself and your pet from conditions like wind, snow and ice. Be sure you and your dog are both properly outfitted — that includes protecting your dog’s paws from ice and deicing agents with booties or pet-safe gels. Use a front-clip harness to discourage pulling and a solid leash as opposed to a retractable one. When you’re out walking, be sure to avoid hazards like frozen ponds and make sure your dog’s clothing stays dry. And don’t forget to wipe your dog’s paws afterward — many salts and ice-melters are toxic to pets.

And remember, it’s important to listen to your dog. If he’s shaking, cowering or attempting to head back home, it might be too cold for him.

Provide a Special Chewy Toy

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Find exercise alternatives.

Some days, winter conditions like ice or extreme cold may prevent both you and your dog from getting outside, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get some exercise. Consider playing tug or fetch, creating your own agility course inside, or feeding a small portion of your dog's food from a food puzzle. Just remember, when you’re playing games like fetch, it’s best to do these things on a carpeted surface, rather than on hardwood floors, which can be slippery.

Fireplace

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Dog-proof your home.

You and your dog may be spending more time inside when temperatures drop, so be sure your home is free of potential hazards. For instance, many types of houseplants can be poisonous to dogs. Additionally, burning candles, fireplaces and space heaters can create the potential for burns and smoke inhalation, so be sure you supervise your dog while these items are in use.

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