13 Ways to Protect Your Dog in Winter



  1. Let’s talk temperature! Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, even in very cold temperatures, but dogs with thin coats may need to wear a sweater or coat when out for winter walks. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. But remember that coats will not prevent frostbite on the ears, feet, or tail.
  2. Try to walk your dog in the late morning or early afternoon hours when temperatures are a little warmer, and avoid early morning or late evening walks. Spend time playing outdoors while it’s sunny; sunshine brings the added benefit of providing both you and your pet with vitamin D.
  3. Indoor pets are happiest and our family pets need to be indoors with us. The happiest dogs are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but live inside the rest of the time. A good rule of thumb is to go out with them and when you’re ready to come in, they probably will be, too.
  4. Provide cozy bedding and don’t let your pooch sleep on a cold floor in winter. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure your dog stays warm. Place your dog’s bed in a warm spot away from drafts, cold tile, or uncarpeted floors, preferably in a favorite spot where he sleeps every day so that the area doesn’t feel unfamiliar.
  5. Protect your dog from heaters. Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat, so please make sure you have a pet-proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harm’s way!
  6. Dry and cold weather can do a number on your pet’s skin. Help prevent dry, flaky skin by adding a skin and coat supplement to his food. Coconut and fish oils are easy foods that can help keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy.
  7. No overfeeding please! Although dogs may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust his calories accordingly. A high quality, healthy diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.
  8. Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water. Always provide fresh water and change it often to entice adequate hydration.
  9. Your dog needs a clean, well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. A properly groomed coat will keep your pet adequately prepared for winter woes.
  10. Paw care is a must. Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winter, dogs can also suffer from cracked pads. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between his pads to prevent ice build-up. Winter salt can also burn your dog’s pads and is toxic, so rinse or wipe your dog’s paws to remove any salt – you don’t want him licking it off. If your dog shows signs of discomfort when walking outside on frozen or salted surfaces, consider using dog booties to protect his paws.
  11. Although your dog is likely to be having a great time outdoors, take frequent indoor breaks for water and warming and don’t ever stay out too long. If you’re walking or playing in unfamiliar areas, keep your dog close. It’s easy for him to venture onto unsafe surfaces such as frozen ponds or lakes. These may be covered in snow and not easily visible.
  12. NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car, no matter what the season. Just as cars can get dangerously hot in summer, freezing cold temperatures are equally dangerous for your dog in winter. Leaving the car running involves additional risks, including carbon monoxide poisoning if the car is parked in a garage.
  13. Cold weather will often aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s very important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog, but be mindful of slippery surfaces and make sure your dog has a warm, soft rest area to recuperate after activity. If you don’t already give your senior dog a natural joint supplement to lubricate the joints and ease the discomfort of arthritis, you may want to consider adding one in winter.

Comments