Furry Winter Fun: A Cold-Weather Guide For Your Dog
By Author Name
Jan 21, 2020
Updated Oct 25, 2023
5 min read
Winter isn’t just coming, it’s already HERE! Which means beautiful walks on snow-covered streets, sledding on the neighborhood hills, skiing and romps in the snow for your dog. Like humans, some dogs LOVE all things winter. And some most definitely do NOT. So no matter what type of dog you have, we’ve put together some tips for getting through — and even enjoying — winter safely with your cuddly canine.
Your dog’s paws are super vulnerable and can get cold and dry — just like your “paws.” If your dog loves the outdoors, try a pair of booties to protect their pads. We know, it seems a little… high maintenance, but Iditarod sled dogs use them and they’re definitely experts in canine cold!
If booties make your dog walk like an alien and he refuses to wear them, just keep a close eye on their pads. Salt and other de-icing substances can really do a number on their toes. Make sure to rinse their feet with warm water when they come back inside to wash off any salt that might linger on their pads or slip between their toes.. If your dog’s pads are dry or cracked, a paw balm may help. You can even make your own!
Another harmful substance to be on the lookout for is antifreeze.. It has a sweet taste which can lure dogs in for a lick, but beware, this blue-green liquid is extremely toxic. Learn more about antifreeze poisoning here.
For some dogs, going out in the cold is the last thing they want to do. You can help make their trip to the frozen tundra less dreadful by shoveling an easy path and patch of grass for them to use. Potty pads are also an option — the Animal Humane Society has some great tips for teaching your dog this alternative method.
For those fur babies that love to frolic in the snow, watch out for dropping temps. According to Purina, puppies and senior dogs can have a tough time regulating their body temperatures. Look for signs your dog might be cold on your winter walks. Lifting their paws, shivering, slowing down and whining could all be clues it’s time to cozy up indoors again.
Cabin fever is definitely a thing for high-energy dogs. Keep their spirits high with indoor activities. Look for an indoor dog gym or pool (yup, they exist) or use a puzzle feeder and other treat-based games to keep their minds busy on a long, cold winter day. The AKC offers some great ideas for indoor fun that can inspire you.
We know — dressing dogs in clothes is a very polarizing topic, but bundling up is important in North Pole-like conditions. It’s especially important for short-haired dogs without undercoats. Obviously those long-haired beauties have their own built-in insulation (here’s looking at you, Saint Bernard).
If your dog needs a coat, hit the stores or the internet to shop for a jacket that fits yours and your dog’s personality. Make sure to check the sizing chart and measure your dog properly so that their new coat will cover them from the scruff of their neck to the base of their tail. It should fit snug, but not too tight! You don’t want the jacket to hinder walking or playing. There are a ton of options out there: waterproof, down-filled, fleece, knit — so take the weather and activity level into account when choosing one for your dog. And of course, if you think your dog is Insta-worthy dressed for the elements, do share #WinterPups!
Cold weather is a fact of a dog’s life. Be vigilant of temperatures and your dog’s limits to ensure you’re keeping them safe and warm during the winter months. And as always, check with your vet if you have any questions about snow romping, paw health, antifreeze poisoning or even if you want a second opinion on Fido’s new parka. Stay safe, stay warm and most importantly, have fun!