Firstly, let me say that just because your dog sports a fur coat, it doesn’t mean he is immune to cold weather. I would like to go on record and say that in my opinion, NO dog is an outdoor dog! All dogs belong inside the house with their family. Dogs are pack animals, and should live as such. That having been said you now understand that this posting is not about how to leave your dog outside all winter, but rather, it is about how to prevent the winter cold, snow, and salt from harming your dog.
For some of you, winter weather is not an issue. You live in a warm climate where the snow does not fly, or you winter in southern climates and your dog is lucky enough to get to go along for the ride. Congratulation on finding a way to avoid the coldest months of the year!
For the rest of us, those of you just like me who brave the winter months at home, listen up, here are a few tips for caring for your dog in cold weather.
Short haired breeds and keeping off the winter chill:
Short haired dogs feel the cold more than long haired breeds for obvious reasons. They have little fur to protect them from the elements. It really is that simple. Yes I know a lot of you think that dogs can handle the cold, that they don’t feel it the way we do, however this is not the case. I once had a Staffordshire Terrier that couldn’t stay outside in winter weather for more than five minutes. Her body and paws just got too cold, and she would collapse on top of the snow and refuse to go any further, then we would be forced to scoop her up like a sleepy five year old and carry her back home. Once we equipped her with doggie snow suit and booties she could stay out longer and play with her pack mates.
In fall weather doggie sweaters come in handy. Have you ever taken your dog out for a walk on a cool fall evening, and then discovered when arriving home his skin was cool to the touch? This is not a good sign. A dog’s normal temperature runs a few degrees higher than a humans, if they feel cool to the touch it is because the weather is having an effect on them. Time to get out the knitting needles and pump out a couple of warm fuzzy sweaters! Putting a sweater on your dog will not make him impervious to the weather but it will prolong the amount of time it takes for weather to get to him, thus allowing you to properly exercise your pet without fear of frostbite or doggie ailments.
Long haired dogs are able to withstand the weather a little better, and don’t usually need to wear a snowsuit or a sweater. However, if it’s so cold YOU can’t go outside without seventeen layers of clothing on, even your long haired dog needs protection from the cold. Very few breeds can handle overly cold weather, and NO dog no matter what the length of her coat, should be left outside permanently.
Okay we have covered the freeze factor, but what about salt damage to delicate paw pads? We have all had road salt damage to winter boots I am sure, it angers us and makes us buy new boots. But what of salt damage to your dog’s paw pads? He can’t “buy new paws” sadly life doesn’t work that way. However you dog’s paws can be protected from the elements and road salts in a couple of ways.
Booties: Dog boots are made by just about every dog accessory manufacturer out there. Of course some work better than others, and some don’t work at all. The best boot for your money is one that molds itself to your dog’s paw. They stay on easier and give better grip on icy surfaces. WE found that the winter snow boots by Ultra Paws seem to work best. They make a line of boots for just about everything from slippery floors to protecting paw bandages.
Protective Lotions, Potions, and Creams: If your dog just isn’t the boot wearing sort, there are products that can be applied directly to the paw pads to help combat the salt damage. Road salts cause paw pads to become dry and cracked. Untreated this could make regular walking painful for your dog. Products such as Dog’s Trust Paw Protective Cream can help to soothe and prevent dry and cracked paw pads.
Now I know some of you will read this post and think “Yeah, right! I am so not dressing my dog!” I know some of you are allergic to doggie fashions. We are not saying that the next time you take Fifi to the vet you should dress her up in her Sunday best, we are merely telling you that SOMETIMES doggie clothing has a practical application. The winter months are one of those times. Protect your pet from the elements, and winter will be much more fun for both you and your dog! No matter how you choose to protect your dog from the elements, just remember one thing, it’s COLD outside, and your dog is NAKED!
Until Next Time Remember
Peace, Love, & Freedom for Pit Bulls