When the temperatures plummet, it’s nice for us to go home and sip on a hot chocolate while watching a nice movie, but what about man’s best friend? Don’t be fooled by a dog’s ancestors who lived in the wild and were able to cope with the elements; dogs are now domesticated animals, and as such, they are prone to feeling cold just as me and you. If the outdoors feels too cold for you, most likely it feels the same for your dog, so it’s important to ensure he stays warm as well.
Some dogs are more susceptible to cold temperatures than others. Northern breeds equipped with heavy double coats have more protection from the elements than dogs with a single coat and originating from warmer climates. Young puppies, older dogs and dogs affected by some health ailments are also more affected by cold. If you own a dog, it’s your job to ensure he’s kept safe and warm this winter. Following are five ways to keep your companion toasty and safe this winter.
Sweaters and Jackets
Dogs may love venturing in the yard but there are times where they should be taken indoors. When the temperatures plummet and it starts raining, snowing or there is a cold wind, you want your dog safely inside. While a garage may seem like a safe place, consider that it can get quite cold in there too and your dog may be exposed to dangerous products stored there. Want to make him extra happy? Invite him to join you in your home. Dogs are happiest when inside with their family.
No, we’re not talking about gardening here, but ways to protect your dog from cold drafts. If your dog’s bed is on the floor, most likely he’ll feel those cold drafts coming from under the door. There are several raised beds for doggies on the market nowadays to help keep your dog warm, or, if you really want to spoil your dog, give him the luxury of a small couch, just for his enjoyment.
That cute pooch wearing a pink sweater isn’t just making a fashion statement; certain dogs really need them. According to veterinarian Marty Becker, dogs who in particular should wear sweaters include small dogs, elderly dogs, dogs who are chronically ill and breeds of dogs with short fur and thin bodies such as whippets and greyhounds.
Humans aren’t the only ones to wear boots, now dogs can too. The main purpose is to protect the soles of a dog’s feet from ice and the harmful effects of ice melt. Even if you don’t use ice melts, your dog may eventually walk on areas covered with it when he goes on walks. Ice melts are harmful in two ways: they may irritate a dog’s paws, and if a dog happens to licks his feet after walking on ice melt, the residue may trigger drooling, nausea and vomiting, according to veterinarian Debra Primovic.
Generally, when the winter approaches, dog owners are less likely to exercise dogs kept for the most part indoors and this often leads to what is known as “winter weight gain.” However, for dogs kept often outdoors it’s a whole different story. Studies show that dogs exposed to low temperatures require two to three times more calories. Extra dietary fat may benefit them too as dogs exposed to cold have an altered metabolism, explains veterinarian Ken Tudor.
And of course, make it a good habit to always check the weather before heading outdoors so you can be prepared. In particular, don’t underestimate the wind chill factor, a phenomenon that contributes to making you and Fido feel cold and lose body heat fast despite the temperature. Better practice caution and stay safely indoors some days than getting an unexpected chill.