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Keep your dog warm in the winter

By Janice Miller

It’s freezing out there! That isn’t surprising since it’s the middle of winter. When the temperature plummets and the snow falls, we grab our heavy coats, throw on a scarf, grab our gloves, and plop a winter hat on top of our heads. And that’s the smart thing to do! But don’t forget to keep your dog safe when winter rears its ugly head. After all, your pup feels the cold just as much as you do. As a loving dog owner, you want to keep him healthy and warm during the winter months, so read on for some basic tips.

Cold Exposure

Protect your dog from elements by waiting for warmer months before shaving his fur. If he doesn’t have enough fur to protect him, he’ll end up being miserable during the cold season. If you have a long-haired dog, give him a trim so salt crystals and de-icing fluids don’t cling to his skin. Short-haired dogs may need to wear sweaters and coats that provide sufficient coverage. Before you take your dog out to go potty, put on his sweater or coat to keep the frigid temps at bay.

Dry Skin

Winter weather can often cause your dog to get dry, itchy skin. Keep his skin well moisturized by adding a skin and fur supplement to his food. Apply all-natural moisturizers like coconut oil to his ears, tails, and paws to prevent cracking and dryness. Dogs who have furry feet need to have the hair between their footpads trimmed to prevent ice from building up.

Poisons

Wintertime offers an abundance of dangers for your furry friend. Antifreeze on sidewalks and driveways may be fatal if your dog ingests it. This can occur when your dog walks across antifreeze and then licks his paws.  According to Pet Poison Helpline, dogs who swallow between one and two tablespoons of antifreeze can die from ingesting it.

During the winter holidays, many people have chocolate in their homes. Most people know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, so they are hypervigilant when it comes to keeping it away from their precious pooches. But during winter holidays, people receive chocolate as gifts and use it in cake and cookie recipes. But if your dog chows down on a chocolate brownie, it could be fatal. According to Popular Science, after eating the sugary sweet, dogs may suffer from several symptoms, including diarrhea,  vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and panting. If you have chocolate around the house, keep it out of your dog’s reach. And if you have visitors to your home, remind them to keep chocolate away from your pup, too.

Bedding

Cats and dogs have higher resting body temperatures and need a blanket in their bed during colder months. Use warm, heavy blankets so they stay comfortable and content. Consider arranging blankets in the shape of a donut so your dog can curl up in the middle of it. His body will be protected from the cold on all sides.

Elderly Dogs and Their Special Needs

Older dogs need even more protection from the bitter winter cold. Senior dogs may experience stiff, achy bones and joints in the winter. Consider adding the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin to his dog food. These supplements will help lubricate his bones and joints, making it a bit easier for him to get around. You may need to modify his bed as well.  He’ll feel better if he sleeps in a plush or raised bed. Both will provide him extra protection from the cold floor. Be careful when you take him for walks. If the sidewalks are icy, he could stumble and fall, potentially leading to a serious injury.

Your dog feels the cold just like you do. Don’t be fooled by his thick, furry coat. He needs protection from the frigid temperatures in order to remain healthy and safe. If you follow these basic tips, your dog will remain happy and warm even when the snow is falling and the cold winds blow.

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