Well I don’t know about you but I woke up this morning in Ann Arbor to frosted grass, an icy windshield, and a very brisk winter wind. For some reason we all continue to live in the northern United States and some days that seems like a great decision and some months (January-March) it seems quite negligent on our part. Nonetheless, we carry on.
How do our southeast Michigan dog owners take care of their canines during these cold winter months? Last week we had a nice post on caring for your cat in the winter and we know how jealous our dogs can get if they aren’t getting their required daily loving and attention, so the Wags to Wiskers hivemind thought that for this week’s PUPDATE we would hand out some quick tips on caring for your dog during the winter.
Take Advantage of the Sun
Yes, the sun will shine sometimes in the next few months. That’s why when it’s out, make the most of it! If your dog likes to fetch, make sure their outdoor toys are brought indoors to keep them unfrozen and so you can find them under the inevitable feet of snow we will get here in Ann Arbor and Chelsea. Vitamin D and sunlight will put a smile on you and your dogs faces, just don’t forget to bundle up.
Limit Buster’s Outdoor Time
Since the sun isn’t going to be out ALL the time, this is probably going to be happening anyways but it’s good to be conscious of it. As much as Buster loves the snow and doing zoomies in the yard, spending too much time out there can result in the two winter health risks you must avoid - frostbite and hypothermia. As we said in our pupdate on winter cat care, if you see signs of these (pale or grey skin on extremities, lethargy, shivering, weakness, etc), please go immediately to your nearest animal hospital and seek professional care.
Maybe your dog needs or wants a coat to really get the most out of these winter months. Just because they’re cold doesn’t mean they should have to stop going outside all together. They just need some armor, like you do! Check out our pupdate on whether your dog needs a winter sweater, and remember that we’ve got a 25% discount on all Ethical Dog Sweaters for the rest of the month! Stop in to your local Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies in Ann Arbor or Chelsea to get fitted.
Spare a Thought for their Sleeping Arrangements
While dogs may love a cold floor during the summer, it’s important that their bodies stay warm at night. If they’re in a crate at night, a few blankets or pillows will go a long way to keeping them comfortable. Especially with senior dogs who have a propensity for waking up with stiff joints, they will be extra grateful for the additional comfort. If your dog sleeps next to you, then maybe winter is the perfect time for some snuggle time :)
Heaters are a No-No
Just be careful with them. We understand you need to keep your room and house heated, but dogs will be naturally attracted to things like space heaters and fireplaces. Protect your dog from getting burned by building barriers or installing covers, or just keep a close eye on them if they’re in the room. Dogs are at higher risk of burning or singeing fur when their skin and fur is at is driest during the winter!
Don’t Compensate with Food
Dogs tend to get LESS exercise during the winter, so be wary that you aren’t overfeeding Luna. Cold temperatures can encourage lazy days on the couch and it’s important to make sure that the extra winter comfort comes in the form of a warm coat of fur rather than an extra layer of fat!
Moisturize Moisturize Moisturize!
At Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies we sell a handful of skin and paw moisturizers that can help prevent dry, flaky skin. We also sell food supplements that can improve skin and coat quality to make these winter months more bearable. Ask an associate at your local shop to see what would work best for your pup, and feel free to check out some of the supplement brands we have in store here.
Dogs Need to Drink
If your dog is like mine and loves to eat snow, then you know they’re getting some water from that, but it’s not going to be enough. If your dog keeps an outdoor water bowl, consider investing in an anti-freezing water bowl that will…keep your water from freezing! Pretty self-explanatory right? Winter air is more dry than summer air and dogs and humans will tire out quicker! We both should be drinking more water in the winter, even if it’s colder.
We really can’t stress this enough. Even though it’s at #9 in our list of tips for winter canine care, it’s super duper important. These items are not listed by rank of importance. Here are some easy tips for making sure your dog’s paws are taken care of:
If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between her pads to prevent ice buildup between the pads.
Winter salt on city sidewalks can also burn your dog’s pads and is toxic, so after walks around the neighborhood, rinse or wipe your dog’s paws to remove any salt – you don’t want her licking it off.
Consider using dog booties to protect her paws, or all-natural paw salves to help soothe cracks and dry paws.
Lastly, on your own property, use an ice-melting solution that is safe, non-toxic, and won’t hurt your dogs paws.
Avoid Winter Toxins
Antifreeze smells and tastes sweet to dogs and cats alike. Hopefully we don’t have to stress this too much, but we need to say it out of necessity and experience. Even a small amount of antifreeze can kill your canine, so clean up spills immediately and put it out of sight, out of mind in high places in the garage so our furry companions can’t get to it.
That’s it. Those are our 10 tips for winter canine care and we hope you have gotten something from it. Have any tips of your own? We’d love to hear about your experience! Leave us a comment, or shoot us a message on our social feeds! Have a happy holiday!