With winter on the doorstep, there are plenty of steps you need to take in order to prepare your four-legged friend. Cold weather, snow and ice, and longer, earlier nights can make it a challenge if you have an energetic canine in the house, so you want to set them up for success this winter by preparing them (and you!) for the coming cold months.
Brush out their coat and take a trip to the vet
Brushing your dog regularly is always important, but make sure you are doing it during the transition from autumn to winter. Dogs’ coats adapt to the changing seasons, so brushing out the old fur will help them develop a more insulating coat and will keep massive shedding from
affecting allergies during the months when you’re cooped up in the house more. A trip to the vet is always a good idea, as well: get vaccines taken care of, pick your vet’s brain for advice on winter care, and top off any medications you are running low on. If your dog is on a prescription, you don’t want to run out when your car is stuck in the snow.
Watch out for problem spots on your pooch
With snow and extreme dryness, there are certain spots on your dog you will need to spend extra time and care with. Paws are an obvious one - use booties if your dog will tolerate them. If they won’t, make sure paws are taken care of when they come inside. Dry them carefully, and make sure any salt or other de-icer is wiped off. If you notice your dog worrying at their paws, make another pass with a towel or other paw cleaner. Ears can also be a hotspot for winter trouble. If you dog likes to play in the snow, make sure their ears are dry when they come back inside - wet ears, especially if your dog has ears that fold over themselves, can lead to buildups and ear infections.
Set up a safe space outside for them
If you have trouble getting your dog to go outside in cold or snowy weather, or they spend a lot of time outside all the time, make sure they have a sheltered space to use. It should be dry, draft-free, and have insulation and a way for the dog to stay warm (like a blanket). Keep an area in the yard clear of snow so your dog won’t get wet when they walk from their shelter to the house, or if they step outside to go to the bathroom. That fur coat is great in cold weather, but it doesn’t work very well if your dog gets wet! Or little dogs, a sweater or booties might be needed to convince them to go outside. They hopefully won’t hate it (as much) once they realize how toasty it keeps them.
Know the signs of hypothermia
If your dog has been outside for a long time, or if you find a stray wandering about in the cold, make sure you check for signs of hypothermia. Violent shivering followed by low energy behavior, a weak pulse, and problems breathing are early signs that the dog suffered from a quick, extreme drop in body temperature. This can shock their system and lead to all sorts of problems if it is not addressed immediately. If you think a dog is suffering from hypothermia, move them into a warm room and wrap them in a coat or blanket. Add some honey or dissolved sugar to warm water to help give them an energy boost, and place towel-wrapped, warm water bottles on their chest or armpits. Call your vet immediately and keep the dog warm as you are bringing them to get checked out.
You and your dog are probably going to be spending more time inside with one another during the winter - make sure you’re keeping a supply of Bio-nihilator on hand to clean up accidents and eliminate odors. You’ll be glad you did!