All Things Dog

The Dog Days of Winter

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The Dog Days of Winter

In cold weather use discretion and common sense. If you do take your dog outside in colder weather, keep your walks and playtime shorter than usual.

A lot of older dogs still love spending time outdoors and romping in the snow. However, seniors can be especially vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. Some preventive measures can help keep him safe, happy, and healthy.

Caring for your dog in cold weather

Buy him a coat: If you notice that your dog shivers in the cold, or if he is smooth-coated or very small (25 pounds or under), buy him a winter coat. There are a wide variety of fabrics and patterns available to suit every dog's size and personality.

Protect his paws: Dogs that play in the snow can get painful ice balls between their toes. To prevent this, keep his nails trimmed. Long nails force him to walk on the back of his feet and splay his toes, giving ice balls more room to form. You can also try dog booties to help protect his paws.

Provide a snow-free potty zone: Many smaller dogs don't like going outside to relieve themselves in the cold or snow. If your dog is like this, clear a path and "bathroom area" where your dog can relieve himself. If your dog still won't go outside, don't wait for him to ask. Put him on a regular bathroom schedule and take him outside at the same times every day.

Feed him bigger portions: When dogs exercise outside in the winter, they use more energy than in warmer weather. If he's active outside during the colder months, give your dog about 25% more food. Not sure about your dog's ideal calorie intake? Ask your vet.

Never, ever leave him in the car: A parked car can quickly turn into a refrigerator and, if you leave the engine running, carbon monoxide fumes could build up in the car.

Above all, in cold weather use discretion and common sense. If you do take your dog outside in colder weather, keep your walks and playtime shorter than usual. And if the weather is extremely cold, a warm house is the best place for him.

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