6 Must-Read Tips on How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Winter

While a fresh snowfall is delightful, the winter ushers in icy wind-chills and below zero temperatures that are plainly frightful. As you bundle up this winter season, don’t forget that your pooch isn’t immune to the winter weather. Dogs feel the cold, and some are less able to tolerate it than others. We’ll share some pointers on how to keep your pup healthy this winter.

Tip #1. Canine Casual: Clothing for Pets

While fashionable clothing is all the rage, canine clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. Dogs that aren’t habituated to the cold, or breeds that aren’t built for it, can benefit from an extra layer or two. This is especially true for small or toy dogs, short-haired dogs, and dogs that are aging or unwell. Although you can have fun with the variety of modern and chic sweaters, jackets, and vests out there you don’t have to jazz your dog up. Make sure the clothing you choose is comfortable and functional. If you live somewhere where winter is wetter, opt for breathable, waterproof clothing.

Tip #2. Know Your Breed

Some breeds fair better in the cold winter weather than others. You have to be aware of your breed’s susceptibility to the cold. While long haired dogs with thick coats that are well-adapted to the cold, including Chow Chows, Akitas and Huskies, fair well; short-haired and short-nosed breeds tend to get cold or experience breathing issues in extreme cold. These include Pugs, Bull Dogs, Greyhounds, and Whippets. If you shave or clip your dog’s thick coat, you’re removing their winter insulation and ability to withstand the cold!

Tip #3. Paw Protection

The bitter cold, snow and ice melters can be damaging and irritating to your dog’s paws. To keep your pooch’s paws protected, you have a few options. Booties and protective paw cream can help protect your pet’s paws from the salt and keep them warm. A note on booties: if your dog wasn’t trained to accept them as a puppy, they may not tolerate them, so use positive reinforcement training.

If you don’t use these protectors, remember to rinse and wipe your dog’s paws after a walk on salted surfaces like sidewalks or the road. Salt is toxic and has an accumulative effect over time. On your driveway, use salt-free, pet-friendly ice melters. They are not only pet safe, but are also more environmentally friendly. We also encourage you to lobby that these melters be used in your neighborhood rather than salt.

Tip #4. Outside Outings: Keep Your Eye on the Clock

You need to research how long your particular breed can be outside in the cold safely without risking becoming too cold or experiencing breathing issues. When the weather is very cold, take shorter walks. Taking shorter walks can still give your dog the exercise they need (especially if you take them more frequently!).

You can also supplement outdoor exercise with indoor play. Play tug of war or fetch in clear areas. Don’t leave your dog in the yard for long stretches in extreme temperatures. Forgetting to keep your eye on the clock could be dangerous or even fatal. And please, folks, don’t take your dog on errands and leave them behind in the car.

Tip #5. Beware of Open Water Sources

If your dog is a swimmer, be careful when you take them by ponds and lakes. If they pull off their leashes they could plunge into ice cold waters. Be on guard to make sure you or your pet don’t fall through the ice. Take a different route to avoid open water sources. If you live by the water, be extra vigilant to keep your dog leashed or in a fenced area. Even if you don’t live near water, keep your dog leashed so they don’t run out into traffic or in the path of a snow plough.

Tip #6. Proper Grooming

The winter season isn’t the time to trim, shave or cut your dog’s hair. A full coat is your dog’s defense mechanism against the bitter cold. You can still groom your dog in the winter, especially because matted hair doesn’t keep the snow or rain out very well! Another reason that consistent grooming is important is dandruff, which some pooches suffer from in long, dry winters.

After a bath, don’t let your dogs go outside until they’re completely dry. Avoid snow and ice getting stuck in your dogs paws by keeping paw pads neatly trimmed. Be sure to check your dogs paws after walks or outdoor playtime to check for cuts, dirt or debris. Don’t forget to rinse the salt off their paws!

If you can’t tolerate the cold, Canine Nanny can do the winter walking for you! Contact us at by phone at 416-294-9789 or via email at info@caninenanny.com We also offer boarding and in-home visits.