With the cold temperatures upon us and the already frequent threat of snowfalls, it’s important to remember our the dogs this time of year.
With the necessity to still go outside to relieve themselves and for occasional exercise, these frigid temperatures can be a bit of a challenge, even for the larger woolly hounds.
I own a seven-year-old whippet and last winter I had many challenges keeping her warm and keeping her feet protected. As I bundle myself up in my own winter coat, scarf, toque, and mittens I can’t help but think, “boy if I can’t handle the cold, how can she?”
Understanding that each breed is different, if you have a less furry breed such as my whippet, here are a few quick tips to keep your dogs warm, healthy, and happy through the winter season:
• Purchase a sweater or a lined coat to provide an extra layer of warmth, specifically for the short-haired breeds. If your dog is as slim and lean as my whippet, it may be necessary to provide a layer over their legs as well. Iluka is wearing a whippet “snugly” that provides warmth to the majority of her body, including her neck, and it includes a convenient opening in the back for her to do her business. Polar fleece is the best option for keeping the warmth close to dogs’ bodies.
• Invest in dog boots that have proper traction, such as Neo Paws, so that your dog won’t suffer from any reactions from the cold, salt, and snow removal chemicals that are often placed on walkways and sidewalks. Dog boots also protect the paws from the build-up of ice and snow that tends to ball up in the fur between the footpads.
• If you do not use dog boots, frequently check the paw pads for cuts and cracks and each time you take your dog out, clean their paws thoroughly to remove any unwanted salts and chemicals. As dogs tend to lick their paws, this will avoid and adverse reactions from ingestion of those substances.
• Be sure your dog is eating regularly, as dogs use a lot of energy to keep warm in these conditions, and therefore they are burning fuel.
• While indoors, keep their sleeping areas warm and dry and away from areas with drafts such as beneath window sills or near doorways.
As a result of these few simple measures, Iluka is now a happy winter whippet and enjoys going outside despite the cold.
So enjoy a happy holiday season, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and remember the dogs too.
Karen N. Klein