6 Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy in the Winter
9 January, 2013
As winter is upon us, we need to make sure to take care of ourselves and our pets. In climates that are very cold, it is especially important for dog owners (and those who have outdoor cats) to take the extra precautions to keep your dogs healthy and happy.
Below are 6 simple tips to keep your dog healthy in the winter.
1. Exercise your dogs
Most dogs will not exercise by themselves, although they may play with another pet/family member or entertain themselves briefly with toys. So, it is your job to help keep your pups active by increasing household activities. Take advantage of breaks in the weather by taking short walks with your dog. Even a few minutes of exercise will help make a difference. It keeps your dogs’ blood flowing and healthy.
2. Keep your dogs outside for a short time
Don’t leave your dog outside for a long time because low body temperature (hypothermia) can lead to death. If the wind chill index is below 20 degrees, do not take small pets, older dogs and cats, or short-haired dogs outside. However, if you need to take your pup out, dress them in a knit sweater to help them curb the chill. You would never leave the house without a jacket?!?
3. Watch your dog’s shedding
Every winter, dogs shed their summer coat and grow a nice thick for the winter season. If the shedding is excessive in the winter, it might be wise to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Make sure that your dog doesn’t have any parasites like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection that causes hair loss.
4. Make sure your dog’s sleeping area is warm
Check your pup’s sleeping area to make sure there aren’t any drafts of cold air coming through to your beloved pup. You can also buy your dog a heat pad or blanket to keep your dog warm during the cold winter nights. There are many bedding options for your dog during the winter such as pads, blankets or quilts and straw or hay. Dog owners are also encouraged to add a thick blanket to your dog’s bed. Not only will this add extra warmth, it will also provide extra padding for painful joints.
5. Older dogs feel the chill more
Older dogs are usually more vulnerable to the adverse effects of winters. Dogs with health conditions like a hormone imbalance, heart problems, kidney disease or diabetes are not able to regulate their body heat appropriately.
Older dogs who are suffering from arthritis can experience considerable discomfort as cold weather can make their stiff joints stiffer. Talk to your vet about medication, treatment options, and ways to keep your arthritic dog fit and warm through winter.
6. Groom your dog
Don’t forget to groom your dog in the winter. It is important for their overall health and to keep their fur and skin parasite free.
Your dog probably won’t get as dirty in the winter as in the summer, but with a regular grooming, it is important that you keep your dogs warm after the shower. Towel your dog dry, or use a good dryer, and don’t let them your dogs go outside until they are dry. Instead of bathing them with water, you could try ‘dry’ bathing by brushing corn starch or baby powder.
If you follow the above six tips, your dog should feel happy and healthy during the cold winter months.
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