Even the most conscientious dog owners make the occasional mistake. And hey, that’s no reason to beat yourself up! But it is a good incentive to make sure you’re well aware of any seasonal mistakes you could be making when it comes to your dog’s care.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Wintertime!
From not wiping your pooch’s feet after a walk to letting her play too close to open flames, we’ve rounded up five common mistakes that dog owners make in the winter — and tips on how you can avoid making them yourself.
Assuming Your Dog Doesn’t Mind the Cold Weather
Is it so cold out that you’re freezing even in your winter weather gear? Chances are, it’s a little too cold for your dog to spend much time outside, too. Although all dogs are at risk in the cold weather, some are better equipped to handle it than others. Huskies and other breeds from cold climates are certainly going to be more comfortable than other dogs, such as the Italian Greyhounds, when wading through a winter wonderland. Also consider that old, young, wet dogs or dogs with thinner coats are at a greater risk of getting hypothermia and/or frostbite.
If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly.
Beware of Poisons
Antifreeze is a common cold weather poison but not the only one to be aware of – road salt and rodent poisons are also used with greater frequency during this time of year. Even if you don’t use any of those products, an unsupervised pet could easily wander into a neighbor’s yard and find them.
Dogs may also lick their paws after a walk. Every time you come inside with your dog you should dry his feet thoroughly with a towel to be sure he has not tracked in any dangerous chemicals. Also check him over for any injuries to the paws: cracks, cuts, or scrapes. These kinds of injuries can cause pain and lameness. Use pet friendly de-icing products on steps, walkways and driveways.
Not Providing Your Dog with Alternate Forms of Exercise
If your pup is used to getting long walks and plenty of playtime outdoors, don’t make the mistake of expecting her to happily curl up on the couch until the snow thaws. Dogs get bored, too! They need exercise and stimulation, and happily, there are plenty of ways for you to help her get it without needing to set foot outdoors. You can play fetch, create an indoor agility course, and pick up some new indoor chew toys. And if your dog is resistant to “exercising” indoors, you can always entice them to get moving with a healthy treat.
Incorrectly Adjusting their Feeding Amounts
If your dog is active and spends a lot of time outdoors, increase his calorie intake slightly and make sure he maintains his ideal weight. All mammals burn more calories in cold weather to regulate their body temperature, especially if they’re active.
On the other hand, most of our furry friends become more sedentary during the winter, just like their couch-loving people. Think about it! If you’re less active, chances are your dog is, too. So for most dogs, the key to helping them maintain a healthy weight year-round is to feed them a bit less during the winter months. Maybe just skip a few treats. Less exercise means less food. What works for us works for Fido, too.
There’s one exception to this rule: puppies. Because they expend so much energy and are developing so rapidly, puppies should be fed more during the winter months, unlike more sedentary adult dogs.
Allowing Your Dog Access to Your Fireplace
Fireplaces can be irresistible, but they can be dangerous for your dog. Just like us, most dogs are drawn to warmth, but sparks and flames from a crackling fire can hurt him. Be sure to use a fire screen and keep your dog at a safe distance from the fireplace.
The same goes for space heaters. Don’t leave your dog unattended in a room with a space heater. It could burn your dog, or they might knock it over, possibly causing a fire. And don’t play with your dog near a roaring fire or a space heater. A little slip could mean a serious burn.
Following these guidelines will help you and your doggo have a safe, fun winter!