K9 Magazine

How to Look After Dogs in Snow and Freezing Temperatures

As the Beast from the East meets Storm Emma and the UK continues to be battered by strong winds, snow and ice, the RSPCA is urging pet owners to keep their animals safe and warm.

Here are 10 top tips shared with K9 Magazine by Madeline Pike, Veterinary Nurse at Direct Line Pet Insurance to help you keep your dog safe.

1. Limit outdoor time in the cold.

It is best to keep walks and other outdoor exercises short and frequent during the winter, rather than allowing your pet to stay outside for extended periods of time.

2. Winter coats for short haired dogs can be a great solution to protecting them from the cold, but putting clothing on your pooches for an extended period of time can actually cause skin irritation.

And so should only be used in exceptional circumstances.

It is also important to remember that coats won’t protect your pet’s ears, tail or feet from frostbite, so it is best to reduce the length of the walk even if your pet has a coat on.

3. The cold weather can cause your pet’s paws, ears and noses to become dry and sore, so moisturising them after a long walk is the best way to prevent them from becoming irritated.

Remember that your own moisturiser is toxic to dogs, and should be avoided entirely – there are, however, dog friendly creams and oils that you can use to soothe your pet’s sore skin.

4. It is not just important to keep your dog safe when they are outside, making sure your pet has a warm place to sleep on cold winter nights is also something to think about.

Being mindful of where their bed is by keeping it away from areas with a draft, or cold uncarpeted floors is a good way to ensure your dog is comfortable at night.

5. Pay extra attention to their paws in winter months.

Trimming the fur on their feet can prevent ice building up between the pads. It is also important to remember that grit can be toxic to dogs, so rinsing their paws after a walk is essential.

Additionally, keeping their nails trimmed during this time can give them better traction on walks, and will allow them to be steadier on ice.

6. Keep your pet away from heaters.

When the house is cold, dogs may snuggle too close to sources of heat whilst attempting to warm themselves up.

Making sure that any fireplaces are properly enclosed, radiators are covered with baseboard covers and portable heaters are monitored will protect your pet from injuring themselves.

7. Whilst walking pets in the winter, try to minimise time spent off the lead.

As well as snow being disorientating to pets visually, it can also allow small ponds and other bodies of water to be obscured.

Letting your dog explore during this time off the lead can be dangerous due to the risk of them getting lost or falling through ice that cannot take their weight.

8. Adjust your pet’s food accordingly.

Dogs will often require more food during the winter months due to them burning more calories than usual when trying to keep warm.

However, if you are reducing the length of time that your pet is active, you may need to cut down on food to keep them from overeating.

9. Beware antifreeze.

Surprisingly sweet and tasty to dogs, antifreeze is highly toxic and even small amounts ingested can be fatal to pets. Clear up any spillages instantly, and keep pets away from garages where you can.

10. Keep your dog hydrated.

It isn’t just the summer that dogs can suffer through insufficient exposure to liquids.

Remember that snow is not a substitute for water, and outdoor water bowls need to be checked every time the dog goes outside just in case they are covered in ice.

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