\\\ Winter Dog Care
\\\ updated 27 November 2021
Winter Pet Care
“My dog was visibly shivering whilst out walking. I didn’t know I should walk him less.”
You may be one of the million or more new UK dog owners that haven’t experienced a winter with your dog.
Just like humans, your dog needs to stay warm in winter to avoid frostbite and catching hypothermia.
Taking Shorter Winter Dog Walks
It’s better to walk your dog less when the weather is really cold to prevent pets from getting very cold which can lead to hypothermia. Dog extremities suffer the most, their ears, nose, and paws when out in cold temperatures. Walking on cold ice can be a numbing experience.
If you’re walking once a day, then mid-morning – lunchtime is best when the temperature has almost reached the maximum for the day and the limited light is at its best.
Back home, more engagement with your pet to keep them active is essential, keeping them alert to compensate for less walking and introducing some new toys to stop them from getting bored.
DOG COATS FOR MANY BREEDS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PIECE OF KIT
Most dogs can wear dog jackets or jumpers during colder weather, with the exception of dogs suited to winter climates such as St Bernard and the Alaskan malamutes who do not need any coat for additional warmth.
Dog jackets or coats, as they are referred to, are generally made from robust machine washable fabrics, fleece-lined, and are brilliant for helping to retain some body heat for your pet whilst out dog-walking. They can get some serious use preventing your dog from getting extremely muddy and wet, also beneficial when it snows helping to prevent ice from attaching to long-haired pets which can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. There are many designs to choose including waterproof full-body styles. Make sure you order the right size for your breed.
Some jackets are made with reflective trims which are ideal for darker weather walking helping your dog be seen by motorists whilst out walking on paths and country roads, along with you wearing reflective clothing and carrying or wearing torches.
Experience teaches you to always have at least two coats available in wintertime, allowing a rota to be worn whilst the other may need washing and drying.
Dog jackets and coats are generally sold sized so it’s important to measure your dog before purchasing and ensure you can return and exchange if it’s wrong!
Dog Jackets Are Sized And Need To Fit comfortably
Knitted dog sweaters are ideal for your dog to wear on cold days around the home, particularly if they are small, young, and short-haired dogs, who tend to suffer the most feeling the cold and to let them wear them all night keeping them warmer when the automatic heating thermostat turns itself off.
Knitted scarfs aren’t really a solution as dogs can incidentally wrap themselves up and choke.
Blankets are ideal to pop over your dog on cold days to keep them snug. There’s plenty to choose from, again made from robust machine washable fabrics in soft fleece fabrics.
Siting your dog bed away from a door and nearer to central heating radiators will help, particularly at night and it may be necessary to keep the thermometer up in the room your pet sleeps in at night when outside temperatures are really low.
If you’re considering buying a new dog bed then beds with sides are a great way to help keep draughts out and look for beds that are slightly raised off the ground, avoiding your pet sleeping on a cold floor.
Beds with removable covers are a must for those dirty muddy walk days when your pet returns home and immediately jumps into their bed! The inner cushion of the bed should also be removable as the covers. This will mean you can easily wash them. The mattress also wears out quicker than the actual bed frame (unless your dog is a chewer) and some firms offer replacement inner mattresses which can help keep bedding costs down, by replacing only the inner mattress from time to time.
Don’t throw the old mattress away as these are useful to keep for using as a spare on the days when you are washing the main mattress. Not all beds have removable mattresses particularly the cheaper-priced beds which can end up as a false economy.
New! Dog Snuggle Beds
Let your dog snuggle under their own blanket in their own bed and not yours! These are deep-filled mattresses with a faux pocket where your puppy or dog can burrow their way into it, for those who like snoozing under blankets.
Increasing your dog’s food during very colder months is a good idea to help them increase body fat to keep them warm – but this needs to be decreased as soon as the weather changes to compensate for any overfeeding. You can always check the weight of your dog at the free weigh-ins that most good veterinary practices operate, particularly if your dog is large and you cannot pick your dog up to pop on the scales at home.
Providing your dog with typical winter vegetables, such as broccoli stalks, or carrots to chew on, will keep them busy and their weight in check too when they are bored at home.
Dogs do not suffer from colds. Any signs of a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing contact the vet as your pet may be suffering from kennel cough.
Duvets For Dogs
Old duvets are perfect to re-purpose for your dog. If you have an old duvet then keep it stored for wintertime, for your dog’s use, who will love curling up in it.
Blankets are also ideal to pop over your dog when they are travelling in the car, or better still leave your pet at home if the journey isn’t essential for them to accompany you. Don’t leave your dog in the car, parked either, as they become very cold quickly when not in use.
The images are from the classic tartan check range including blanket and dog bed available from Barbour.
If your dog is shivering and you cannot get your pet warm, they are whimpering and slow in movement, contact the vet immediately as they may be suffering from mild hypothermia.
Buoyancy Dog Jackets
These are similar to dog jackets but useful when dogs are walking near water and enjoying a swim. If it’s stormy rough seas, most dog owners will walk their pets on promenades, jackets can still be worn then, they can double up as a dog jacket.
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