There’s nothing quite like seeing a puppy for the first time experience snow. However, not all canines are suitable for outside play in the winter. So that hounds can enjoy the winter wonderland, our experts give winter safety guidelines for dogs in the snow.
Use caution when going outside in the cold. Some dogs have thick coats meant to keep them warm in cold weather, while others have thin skins that do not mark them warm. Consider your dog’s coat thickness and age, as puppies and senior dogs have a harder time controlling their body temperature.
If it’s too chilly for you, it’s too cold for your dog. Other winter safety suggestions from one of our expert vets are listed below.
Snow and Ice Safety for Dogs
1. Acclimate to the Cold Gradually
“Acclimation is the key,” says Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, a veterinarian and Purina’s senior training manager. Begin with brief sessions outside and gradually increase to allow them to acclimate. It’s OK for them to stay out for long lengths of time if they appear to be fine and aren’t shivering or wanting to get in.”
2. Make Using the Bathroom More Efficient
For toilet time, shovel an area of grass, so they have somewhere to go straight away. Encourage your dog to travel to places more protected from snow, ice, and wind instead. After that, give treats to reinforce the excellent behavior and prevent accidents indoors.
3. Keep an eye out for antifreeze and rock salt
Although rock salt is not harmful, it can cause stomach distress and irritate their paws if consumed. Antifreeze has a pleasant flavor, yet it is poisonous. Avoid blue or green pollutants on driveways, sidewalks, and cars. Before they come inside, wipe their paws to eliminate any salt or antifreeze residue they may have licked. This will also help to warm the feet more quickly.
4. Figure out how to get them to warm up
Cover your dog with a towel or blanket if he appears to be cold. You can also use a low-heat blow dryer, but be careful not to overheat his paw pads, as they may burn. Instead, warm a sock with rice (test it against your wrist to see if it’s too hot). If you know your dog gets chilly easily, buy sweaters, coats, and booties ahead of time.
5. In the winter, keep your dog’s paws warm
To ease your dog’s cracked paw pads:
- Try a moisturizer developed for cow udders.
- Put your dog in booties in the winter to protect his paws and prevent broken pads. Keep him occupied with a puzzle feeder or a treat after you’ve applied it, so he doesn’t lick it off right away.
- Otherwise, every time he comes inside, clean his feet.
6. Don’t Forget About Exercise
Due to pent-up energy, idle time might lead to disruptive or anxious behavior. Continue walking your dog in the winter and allowing him to play outside once you’ve accustomed him to the cold and prepared him for it.
You could even get crafty and construct a little agility course out of snow mounds. If the outside is too cold or icy, consider an indoor dog gym, a puzzle feeder, or indoor games to keep them occupied.