Officially winter does not arrive until December 21, but in many places already snow has fallen: winter is here. Are you ready for it? And have made sure that your dog will be comfortable? Here are a few things you can do if you leave your dog outside. However, don’t leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Be attentive to your dog’s body temperature, and limit its time outdoors. Adequate shelter is a necessity. Keep your dog warm, dry and away from drafts.
Be sure your dog’s house is the right size. If it is too big, it will not keep your dog warm, and if it is too small, your dog won’t use it. Be sure the dog house is not on top of concrete or dirt floors. Place a barrier between the floor and the house such as wooden pallets or straw. Be sure there is a warm blanket inside of the house. You can buy one at discount pet stores or you can put one of your old blankets or sleeping bags. Your dog will love these because they have your scent.
Be sure to give your dog a little extra food. It can provide calories to produce additional body heat. And be sure the water bowl is always full, and don’t allow the water to freeze. It takes more energy in the winter to keep body temperature regulated, so additional calories are necessary.
Groom your dog regularly. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat. Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. If you do the trimming, take care not to cut the pads or other delicate area of the foot.
Towel or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean its paws, too. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking.
Don’t leave your dog alone in a car. If the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide will endanger your dog’s life. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.
These simple things can make winter be more enjoyable for your best friend.