6 Winter Safety Tips for Dogs in Snow
There’s nothing quite like watching a dog experience snow for the first time. Not all dogs are suited for outdoor play in cold weather, though. Our experts offer winter safety tips for dogs in snow so they can enjoy the winter wonderland.
Some dogs have thick coats designed to withstand cold temperatures, whereas others have thin coats that don’t keep them warm. When it comes to spending time outside this winter, use your best judgment. Consider the thickness of your dog’s coat and his age, as puppies and senior dogs have a harder time regulating their body temperature.
A good rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for you in your winter coat, it’s too cold for your dog. Here are some other winter safety tips from one of our expert veterinarians.
How to Protect Your Dog in Snow & Ice
1. Gradually Acclimate to the Cold
According to Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, veterinarian and Purina’s Senior Manager of Training, “The key is acclimation. If they seem fine and aren’t shivering or trying to get in, it’s perfectly fine for them to stay outside for longer periods as long as they’re building up to it.” Start with short sessions outside and slowly increase so they have time to adjust.
2. Make Potty Time More Efficient
Try shoveling a patch of grass for potty time so they have a spot to go right away. If there are areas with more protection from snow, ice and wind, encourage your pup to go there instead. Give treats after to reinforce the good behavior and discourage accidents inside.
3. Keep an Eye Out for Rock Salt & Antifreeze
Rock salt isn’t toxic, but it may upset their stomach if ingested and can irritate their paws. Antifreeze tastes sweet but is toxic. Look for blue or green-colored substances on driveways, sidewalks and cars and keep dogs away from those spots. Wipe off their paws before they come inside to remove any salt or antifreeze residue they might lick off. This will also warm the paws faster.
4. Learn How to Warm them Up
If your dog seems cold, cover him with a towel or blanket. You can also use a blow dryer on a low setting, but don’t heat his paw pads, as they could burn. Instead, heat up some rice in a sock (place against your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot). If you know your dog gets cold easily, stock up in advance on sweaters, coats and booties.
5. Protect Dog Paws in Winter
For cracked paw pads, use a moisturizer made for cow udders to soothe your dog’s paws. After applying, keep him busy with a puzzle feeder or treat so he doesn’t lick it off immediately. To protect your dog’s paws in winter and prevent cracked pads, try putting your dog in booties. Otherwise clean his paws every time he comes inside.
6. Don’t Neglect Exercise
Idle time can lead to destructive or nervous behavior due to pent-up energy. Once you’ve acclimated your dog and prepared for cold weather, continue walking your dog in winter and let him play outside.
You could even get creative and build a small agility course out of piles of snow. If conditions are too cold or icy, consider an indoor gym for dogs or give them a puzzle feeder or play indoor games to keep them busy.
By following the above tips, your dog can enjoy the snow and play to his heart’s content. For more pet safety tips, advice and answers to frequently asked questions, click here.