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Winter Weather Tips
Mary Jamison 224

Winter Weather Tips

Baby, it’s COLD outside!

As you look at your dog’s built in fur coat with envy, remember that the cold weather affects them, too, perhaps in ways you hadn’t realized.

For example, your logical brain might tell you that dogs with fur can’t possibly get frostbite…but those un-furry paws are susceptible to frostbite, just like your un-fuzzy hands.

And you might think that while short haired dogs might get hypothermia, it makes sense that a thick, long-haired coat would protect the dogs who seem made for the cold…but you’d be wrong there, too.

“C’mon!” you cry. “Saint Bernards were bred for the cold! And they’re ready, willing, and able to bring me a cask of brandy when I get chilly!”

That’s true! But even dogs bred for the cold weather have their limits. And because they love the cold, they might not even be aware that they’re getting too cold. That’s why it’s up to you to watch for these signs of hypothermia:

  • shivering
  • lethargy
  • stiff muscles
  • pale or gray gums
  • stumbling or lack of coordination
  • fixed and dilated pupils
  • low heart and breathing rates
  • collapse
  • or even coma

More Tips for Keeping Your Dog Toasty, Health, and Happy This Winter

Leash-Up Around Bodies of Water


Off leash exploring in the snow is great fun for everyone, but when you get around water, it’s best to put your pup on a leash. Help your dog be safe by avoiding sharp ice and frozen ponds, lakes, and streams. Falling through the ice is a bad way to end a day of fun exploration.

Beware of Salt and Ice Melt Chemicals

While there are many pet-safe ice melts available for your home, you don’t know what’s been used on public sidewalks and roads. Those toxic salt and ice melts not only irritate your dog’s paws, but if ingested while licking those paws, your dog is in danger of salt toxicity or chemical poisoning.

The safest bet is to use paw booties to keep your dog’s tootsies warm and safe. After hilariously high-stepping with those odd things on, many dogs adjust to wearing them easily. Others, not so much.

The next best option is to clean your dog’s paws post-walk. If their pads become dry and cracked, a little Bag Balm or vitamin E oil rubbed in will help soothe and protect.

While you’re at it, trim any long hair off your dog’s paws to be even with the pads. Ice balls can form between the pads and toes…ouch!

Prevent Dehydration

It seems counterintuitive to bring a bottle of water along on a cold winter’s day, but both you and your dog can get dehydrated, even in winter. Both of you should take care to drink water while out and about.

And don’t forget to check the dog’s outdoor water bowl to make sure it hasn’t frozen!

Increase Visibility

Ahhh, the joys of Daylight Saving Time. Many of us wind up walking in the near-dark during the winter. Be sure to put reflective gear on your pup (coat, leash, collar) so you can easily see them. And make sure to stay on a leash when walking near traffic.

Know Your Dog’s Limits

Winter is tough on the old and the very young. Be sure to take extra care when venturing out in the cold with your seniors or puppies. Very young and very old pups have a more difficult time regulating their body temperatures.

Bundle Up!

Even if you’re in the I-would-never-dress-up-my-dog camp, now is the time to embrace a cute fitted sweater and stylish winter jacket! You wouldn’t want to be caught in the cold with a light jacket on, and many dog coats don’t provide much more protection than that.


Winter brings its challenges, but if you’re prepared, it brings lots of fun, too. There’s nothing quite like watching zoomies in the snow, plumes of smoke-like condensation puffing into the air as you laugh. By being mindful of the dangers and following these tips, you and your pup will be able to enjoy all the winter delights safely and happily.

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