Winter is when most warm-blooded mammals have to find a warm, safe spot to curl up in. Dogs are no different, although their association with humans has given them a ready-made den to bed down in for the cold months. Unlike larger mammals, which hibernate the cold months away, dogs are still active, partially because they're always guaranteed food from their owners. Being fed and in a warm spot is the bare minimum a dog could wish for. Carting pet parents know that it takes a lot more to make their fur baby comfortable in winter. Here, we look at how you, as a responsible pet parent, should help your pet deal with the biting cold of winter.
Spend Less Time Outdoors
It's tempting to want to take your dog out for a walk, but the cold of winter means that sauntering across a park is a bad idea. Even the toughest Alaskan huskies, bred to pull sleds, are comfortable spending an extended amount of time in the cold weather. Even if your dog has a thick coat, you should be careful about taking them out for a long time in the cold. The weather tends to affect their less-covered areas, such as their noses, eyes, and paws, a lot more.
Ideally, it would be best if you kept walks down to a minimum during wintertime. Leaving them unattended outdoors is a recipe for disaster and the act of an uncaring pet parent. Some pet owners don't like letting their dogs indoors, but the winter should be the one time you relax that rule. If you're cold out there, then so are they. Let them in and take advantage of your warmth. They are part of the family, after all.
Wipe Down their Paws Often
Anytime you and your pet head outside for a little jaunt, wipe down their paws when you come back. The world has many things that could harm their small puppy pads, and wiping them down will help keep them healthy and happy. Ice, snow, salt, and several other chemicals can interact with their paws. The result could be a dangerous allergic reaction or just discomfort.
Additionally, if their paws are wet, the water will likely freeze, which might even hurt their sensitive feet. It would help if you also spent some time going over their paws after returning from a walk. Injuries or scrapes could be terrible for your fur baby. They'd face a lot more pain because of the cold and the ice, so staying vigilant will help to keep them happy.
Don't Skimp on the Pet-Proofing
During the spring and summer, pet-proofing your house might not be a significant concern. Many pet parents get around this consideration by letting their dogs out to play for extended periods. However, in winter, with your pet indoors all the time, you have to consider the household dangers to their well-being. Things like space heaters might seem like a toy to them, and the warmth they give off will be enticing. You need to ensure proper boundaries are established so that your pet doesn't burn themselves while getting close to it.
Many pet owners think heated pet mats might help their dogs during the winter. Unfortunately, they're also likely to cause burns. Alternatively, you should consider a deep-dish cuddler as a better way to keep your furry friend warm during the cold months. Ensure that you secure any cleaning products in a safe place that your dog can't get to since they can be curious and might try to taste the things that smell weird.
Don't Lock Them in the Car
When you head out for supplies, you might be tempted to leave your fur baby in the car. What's the harm, right? It's not like there's sun outside to make for unbearable temperatures. Cars heat up really fast when it's hot. However, they also lose temperature quickly when it's cold. In a matter of minutes, your car's interior can go from comfortable to freezing, leaving your poor pet in a bad situation. It might not be a direct health problem for pets, but it will make them uncomfortable and possibly lead to hypothermia because of the temperatures.
Be Aware of Warning Signs
Frostbite and hypothermia are dangerous and deadly to pets. There are several warning signs that you should note to warn you about if your pet may be experiencing these conditions. If they have ice on their body, not just their nose and paws, you may want to get them into somewhere warm as fast as possible. They'll also be trembling or acting anxious. Bubbly pets that slow down and start acting lethargic may be demonstrating signs of impending hypothermia. Once you get them out of the cold, get them into a nice, warm spot, wrap them in blankets and call the vet for more instructions.
Hypothermia tends to set in quickly, but frostbite can take longer to present. The best approach to avoid this issue is to keep an eye on your pets and make sure they don't run outdoors. The world outside can be quite different in winter, and your dog might not be aware of what danger they're in. Your pet-proofing of your home should also take this into account, making sure you control where and how your pet can get out of your home.
Be Extra Careful During Winter
You might not hear about many people losing pets during winter, but it's a genuine possibility. If you live in a suburban area, it's even more critical that you keep an eye on the things that could harm your pet during the cold months. Make sure and pet-proof your house or apartment to make it safer for your pup during their stay indoors. Even outdoor dogs need the warmth and security of an indoor space during these months. Most importantly, please note the things your pet needs and make a comfortable spot within the hearth for them. They are part of the family, after all. Treating them any other way is simply inhumane.