The first snow of the season has already arrived in the Inland Northwest, blowing in with freezing temperatures. If your dog is like most, the first snow means a day full of excitement, with plenty of outside playtime. And, much like kids, they’ll often remain outdoors until they’re cold to the bone.

Our furry friends are just as sensitive to the weather elements as we are. We all know how dangerous leaving our pups inside cars during warmer months can be, but the winter temps are just as problematic. The effects of the severe cold and snow can sneak up on your pup without you noticing, unless you pay attention to the limits and are aware of the signs to look for.

Ensure your dog’s safety and warmth this season (and every season) with these cold weather tips.

Stay Indoors

When the temperature dips below freezing, it’s best to keep your dog indoors as much as possible. Refrain from leaving your pup outside for any lengthy duration—playtime and potty breaks should be quicker than usual, too. According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, “Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.”

Also, be sure to crate train your pup before winter, so that you can leave him or her inside the home and comfortably warm while you’re out and about. Just like during the hot summer months, leaving your dog in the car while running errands isn’t a safe an option.

Check the Paws

Checking your pup’s paws is one of the most important factors in ensuring his or her well-being during the cold-weather season. The winter elements can cause cracked paw pads and bleeding, and walking through snow and ice can cause ice ball accumulation between toes. Try to inspect your pet’s paws regularly after returning inside from the elements. Trimming hairs between your dog’s toes can help decrease the ice buildup and, if you notice cracking and bleeding of the paws, it might be a sign that more time needs to be spent indoors.

In addition to checking your dog’s paws for cracks and ice balls, make sure to wipe them off after any trip outside to places where deicers and antifreeze chemicals might have been used. Not only can these chemicals get tracked into the house on your dog’s paws, but they are poisonous to your pup if he or she licks its paws. For your own home’s walkways and driveway, use a pet-safe deicer to avoid this everyday hassle. 

Consider an Extra Layer

Not all dogs are bred for cold-weather climates. Many short-haired breeds and smaller dogs are less tolerant of the chilling conditions. For these pups especially, a warm dog coat or sweater is a great option for trips outdoors. Perhaps more importantly, dog booties can help protect your pup’s paws, making even the quicker trips outdoors far more comfortable. 

Watch for Problem Signs

Dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite just like we are. Pay attention to the symptoms. Bring your pup inside immediately if you notice whining, shivering, signs of anxiousness or weakness, or if your dog slows down or stops moving. It’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect hypothermia or frostbite.

Particularly with older dogs, medical conditions such as arthritis can worsen during the colder months. A trip to your veterinarian for an annual checkup around this time of the year will help make sure your pup is healthy and ready for the season ahead.

There’s no reason not to enjoy some precious moments of playtime in the snow with your pup. In fact, a winter without these memories just wouldn’t be the same. Play it safe, however, by limiting outdoor time and following these tips to keep your pup healthy and safe. 

Going away this winter? Contact K9 Country Club to arrange dog boarding so that your pup can stay happy and warm while you’re gone.


Jorge Mauro Fernndez/123 RF Stock Photo)

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