Whether you love the cold or not, winter is approaching! Just like your schedule, routines and activities will change with the colder weather, so will your dog’s. Below, we provide some helpful tips on preparing your dog for winter – and keeping them active and healthy in the cold!
Make Winter Easier for Your Pup with These Tips
Find engaging indoor activities for your dog.
You and your dog might not want to take long walks through the park or spend time outside playing fetch in the cold. Unfortunately, many dogs become agitated and unruly when they don’t get enough activity. While physical activity is great for pups, you can do many mentally stimulating activities with your dog to keep them engaged. Do these activities from the warmth and comfort of home:
- Teach your pup a new trick. Even if your dog has mastered all the basic commands, there’s still something for them to learn! You can also reinforce old tricks or commands. For example, something as simple as having your dog “stay” for extended periods can be very engaging.
- Invest in puzzle toys. Many toys engage your pup. Puzzle toys do this by hiding high-value treats in specific compartments. Your dog will have to sniff for and open the box to find its treat.
- Create a nose work rope. You can easily make a sniffing toy for your dog if you have an old towel. Lay the towel out flat, place a treat at the end of the towel, then roll the towel once or twice to cover the treat. Add another treat, roll and repeat until you’ve hidden multiple treats in the towel. You can unroll the first treat to show your dog, then let them unroll the rest.
- Give your dog attention. Something as simple as cuddling with your pup, playing a small game of tug-of-war or hiding a toy in the house can keep your pup engaged.
Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and medications.
Dogs need their vaccinations at all times of the year. The same is true for heartworm and flea medicines! Unfortunately, just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean your dog can’t contract heartworms or fleas. So keep your pets up to date with their vaccinations and medications.
Take extra care of your dog’s coat and skin.
In colder, drier winter months, dogs are more susceptible to dry skin and cracked paw pads. Dry skin can lead to itching and chewing, while cracked paw pads are often painful for pups. Keep your dog healthy by adding raw egg, sweet potatoes or pumpkin to their food. These can improve their skin’s moisture and keep their coat healthy. If they’re experiencing cracked paw pads, consider a paw balm to moisturize and heal their paws. You should also keep your dog well groomed, even during winter!
Keep them warm!
Some dogs, like huskies, are built for winter. They love running through the snow and pouncing in snow piles. But many dogs – especially smaller, older dogs – don’t care for the cold. So keep your dogs warm by adding a blanket to their bed or investing in a heating pad. Limit outdoor time if your dog isn’t a snow-loving breed. And wipe off their paws and bellies when they come inside after it snows! For smaller dogs, you may also want to shovel some of the lawn so they can use the bathroom more easily and quickly.
Avoid common winter dangers.
Many ice salts and melts are toxic to dogs. Invest in one that is non-toxic, or opt for unused kitty litter. Additionally, another common winter danger for dogs is rat and mouse poison. As small critters make their way into your home and you look for solutions to remove them, ensure your dog can’t get into the poison. Lastly, keep your dog away from breakable and electrical Christmas and holiday decorations!