DOES MY DOG NEED CLOTHES?
The most frequently asked question during winters is, does my dog need clothes during winter? There are different factors to consider while answering this question : How extreme is the weather where you live, what kind of fur does your dog have and does it seem to be sufficient, does she shiver when outside. You know your dog better than anyone else.
If you feel your dog is not comfortable with the cold, it is always a good idea to get her a sweater. If you have a dog with thick fur she might not need a sweater. If you have a dog with a thin coat like a Chihuahua and you stay in extreme temperatures, it is a good idea to have her wear a sweater or a jacket to protect her form the extreme weather.
HOW TO CARE FOR THE PAWS
In winters the salt and ice melters can get stuck in your dog’s paws which could lead to infection and or cracking of the paws. Either put on booties or apply generous amounts of petroleum jelly on the paws before going outside. The jelly not only protects the paws from cracking but also prevents from the paw pads becoming wet because of the snow/water. If your dog has cracked paws because of the cold try using balms especially made for them. After a walk, make sure to wipe their paws off and check if anything is stuck between them.
GROOMING IN WINTERS
Keep the nails trimmed so that it doesn’t get caught and break. Do not bathe your dog outside and if you bathe him at home, make sure she is completely dry before going outside in the cold. Switching to a dry shampoo in winters is a better idea. Do not trim/clip the fur on your dog because that is what will keep her warm when outside.
You will need to examine your dog’s paw frequently in the winters so try to get him used to it before it becomes a necessity. If your dog is uncomfortable with that, get him trained to give the paws and desensitize him to you touching his paw. Train your dog to walk on a loose leash before it becomes too slippery to handle.
PROTECTION AGAINST COLD WEATHER CHEMICALS
Car Anti-freeze is one of the most harmful chemicals with a sweet taste that appeals to the dogs. It often leaks from the car radiators. It is however a deadly poison even when consumed in very small quantities. Clean up if there are any spills where your dog has access to. Salts and ice melters can also cause skin irritation so wipe them off the feet and stomach in case of small dogs after coming back from a walk.
HEALTH CONDITIONS RELATED TO COLD WEATHER
Frostbite is very common in humans and dogs and it is a tissue injury caused due to extreme cold. The most common areas where it occurs are tail, ears, feet or scrotum. It can also stay hidden under the fur so check for the signs of it. Another common condition is hypothermia which is a result of extended exposure to extreme cold and can be life threatening. Watch out for signs like a weak pulse, lethargy, shivering.
CARING FOR OUTDOOR DOGS
It is a good idea usually to have your dog inside all winter. If that is not possible and (and only if you have an outdoor kind of dog who can sustain the winters), have a heated, warm shelter(wind-proof) where she can go and rest. Have a clean and a dry bed there all the time. Outdoor dogs burn more calories due to the cold so increase their food ration. Have fresh water for her available all the time. Make sure it has not frozen. Use heated bowls for food and water if necessary.