Along with winter comes the cold and, therefore, the need to carry out certain special care to help our best friend withstand the temperature change. Although a priori it may not seem that the dog needs extra care at this time of year, the truth is that it will require some adjustments in its diet or the care of its coat, for example.
In this Best Pets Lover article, we will detail how to care for a dog in winter, taking into account different aspects of its daily routine and the needs that this time of year requires. Don’t miss out, find out everything you need to know about winter and dogs below!
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Why is it important to take care of a dog when it’s cold?
There are some dogs that, due to their physical condition or special needs, are much more vulnerable to cold, we refer for example puppies, elderly dogs, hairless dogs, and sick animals… All of them will need extra care with the arrival of a cold. In addition, these dogs that we have mentioned could suffer from the aggravation of arthritis or be susceptible to various viral diseases, common at this time of year, such as the flu or kennel cough. In any case, and regardless of your dog’s age or condition, following these basic tips will help keep him much healthier and happier. Take note!
Feeding a dog in winter
It is common to observe that, in winter, people opt for the choice of more caloric dishes with the intention of “fighting the cold” and thus increasing their energy reserves. This belief has also spread to dogs and more and more people feel that they should be fed more during the winter.
Since there are no studies in dogs, we have analyzed some studies in people and although exposure to cold indeed leads to greater consumption of calories, it is also true that in winter fewer calories are burned fats. So, in the cold, should a dog be fed more?
The truth is that most dogs live indoors, therefore, as they are not exposed to cold they do not need a higher calorie intake. Neither do those who exercise. On the contrary, dogs that live outside and suffer from inclement weather and low temperatures will need an extra supply of nutrients. In the latter case, the advice of a veterinarian may be interesting, since depending on the ambient temperature, the animal may require one amount or another of extra calories.
Is it necessary to shelter a dog in winter?
Not all dogs adapt to the different season changes in the same way. Nordic dogs and Swiss Cattle Dogs, such as the Alaskan Malamute or the Greater Swiss Cattle Dog, have no problem resisting low temperatures, while some primitive type dogs, such as the Peruvian Hairless Dog, or sighthounds, like the whippet, can take a lot of tolls when spending hours outside, as they get overwhelmed easily.
How do you tell whether a dog is chilly, though? We can usually tell if we watch the dog tremble. It is common in small breeds or short-haired or hairless dogs. In these cases, it is recommended to keep a dog warm, either with the use of a sweater or a dog coat.
In addition, it may also be convenient to use a raincoat when it rains to prevent the dog from getting wet and cold. In the market we find a great variety of raincoats, increasingly comfortable and easy to use, but, if it is not possible for us to acquire one, it is always recommended to dry the dog well when you get home, either with the use of towels or a dryer. For the latter case, we recommend you consult this other article: ” Cancer In Dogs: types of cancer that can affect your pet “.
Finally, to finish with the protection of the body, we recommend the use of boots for dogs when we go to the snow. This is because, in contact with intense and prolonged cold, the dog’s pads can burn. In this other post, we also explain how to take a dog to the snow.
How to bathe a dog in winter?
The coat is the most important protective barrier against the cold that dogs have, for that reason it is very important to keep it in good condition. Ideally, we should carry out regular brushing to remove dead hair and avoid creating knots and tangles. Brushing is also important when the dog visits the snow since then frost can form that could end up damaging its dermis if it is not removed.
As for the bath, to prevent the dog from catching a cold, you can bet on a dry cleaning shampoo, although if you bathe the dog completely, it should be done with slightly hot water and finishing the process with an exhaustive drying, which includes the legs and the use of a dryer.
The steps to follow will be the same as those applied to bathing your dog at home at any other time of the year. In winter, the only thing that should be modified is, as we have mentioned, the temperature of the water to prevent the dog from being cold.
Generally, it is recommended to visit the veterinarian every 6 months (except in working dogs) to ensure that their health is good and that they do not show any possible pathology. Especially if you have an elderly or sick dog, it can be interesting to make a routine visit at this time of year.
Apart from the visits, you must continue with the vaccination schedule and with the internal and external deworming of the dog, to avoid the spread of any disease or parasite. Likewise, we recommend that you check his body in a general way every day, paying special attention to the pads.
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How to take care of your dog in winter?
Keep her warm. Keep her indoors as long as possible. The easiest way for your pet to maintain a good body temperature is to keep it indoors; if the temperature is very low or your pet does not have as much hair, you can also consider wearing clothes, or if he is not used to or willing to wear it, you can also use a blanket to keep him warm during the day and night.
Take care of the dog’s diet
As always, giving the animal the food that best suits it based on its age, size and weight is essential for the dog to have the vitamins and nutrients it needs in its body. Since we become less active in winter, it is sure that its activity is also less intense in this period, so be careful not to overfeed it.
Take care of your hygiene
Winter brings with it a series of dangers that you have to be aware of. Excess humidity or having the heating too high for the animal can cause dermatitis or excessive shedding, even leading to bald spots. Not brushing the dog correctly can cause knots to form in its hair or it may become matted and prevent the skin from perspiring properly.
To avoid all this, brush your hair daily and properly. Before combing, apply a conditioner or nourishing oil to the hair, which will create a protective layer on the coat. Also, when the day comes to bathe him – once a month is ideal in winter – it is best to use a specific shampoo for his hair type.
Remember that washing him too much is counterproductive, as the natural qualities of his skin will be weakened.
Have Vaseline on hand
Natural Vaseline comes in handy to protect the skin from moisture and cold. Applying it to areas especially exposed to these factors, such as the nose and paw pads, will prevent them from drying out and cracking due to low temperatures.
Buy him a raincoat
Putting a raincoat on your pet before going outside is the most practical way to avoid having to dry it every time you go for a walk. And besides, the dog appreciates it because it is not so cold. Especially if he is of a short-haired or small-sized breed. Of course, before putting it on, make sure that he has the cloak well combed so that no knots form.
And remember to dry the areas that have come into contact with water well, to prevent them from retaining moisture and getting cold.
Food is key to the health of your pet in winter
It is important not to neglect our pet’s diet at any time of the year, much less in winter. Since an adequate diet will favor and stimulate the immune system of our animal, reducing the chances of it getting sick.
During this time of year, dogs tend to eat more to better conserve heat during the day, so it is advisable to slightly increase their portions. However, we must monitor his diet and ensure that he exercises so that the increase in caloric intake does not result in being overweight. If we live in an area with very low temperatures, we should check our pet’s water bowl daily to check that it has not frozen.
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Condition the place where you sleep
Here we also have to differentiate between dogs that live inside the house and those that live outside. If your dog belongs to the first group, you just have to make sure that he has a comfortable bed and a blanket to sleep warm.
On the other hand, if your dog sleeps away from home, you will have to check his house to verify that there are no spaces through which the cold or water can enter. If you buy a new house, opt for wooden ones with legs, so you will isolate it from the cold ground and humidity.
Other care for a dog in winter
If your dog lives indoors, it will be essential to ensure a soft bed and provide some type of blanket so that it retains heat more easily at night. If he is cold, he can cover himself to sleep. However, by staying in a temperate environment, he will not need excessive care.
On the contrary, if your dog lives outside, he will need a comfortable doghouse (never made of plastic, we will bet better on robust wooden houses), isolated, that is not directly in contact with the ground and that also has a mattress and blankets to keep warm. It is very important to properly check the shed to make sure that it is completely insulated and that it does not have any leaks or holes. Finally, we recommend that you check the water frequently, since it sometimes freezes and, if it is very cold, let the dog pass inside the home.
To finish this article we want to remember that dogs that live abroad, away from their family, are more likely to develop behavioral problems, are more susceptible to illness and, in general, have a poorer quality of life. Consequently, in response to the commonly requested issue, “Can dogs sleep outside in winter?” what is the answer?
It depends on the dog and its characteristics, as well as whether or not it has the aforementioned requirements to prevent it from getting cold. Nordic dogs are fully adapted to high temperatures, such as the Siberian husky, however, other dogs from more temperate and warm climates cannot live outdoors, such as chihuahuas. For this reason, we insist on taking into account the characteristics of each dog and, above all, correctly acclimatizing its space to guarantee that it is kept in perfect condition. Can a dog freeze to death? “.