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Cold Weather Tips for Pet Owners

By: wetnosesfb | February 5th, 2011 3:05 pm

Hi Dog lovers,

Don’t let the cold winter weather stop you and your dog from enjoying the outdoors.


Short-coated breeds such as Greyhounds, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Min Pins, Boxers and Dobermans are vulnerable to cold. Outerwear in the form of a sweater or a coat is recommended for protection. Choose one with a high collar that covers the dog from the base of the tail to the belly.

Coat Care

Winter grooming is very important. Regular brushing help keep the fur clean and improves skin, coat and circulation. Clean and healthy fur lofts air that helps your pet stay warm. Don’t shave your dog’s fur during the cold winter months. That fur helps protect against the cold. Consider a neat trim instead. Completely dry your dog after a bath to avoid illness. Pets often suffer from flaky itching skin during the winter months. This is due to the dry heated indoor air. Coat conditioners and sprays can help prevent this problem. When coming in from a walk, completely wipe down your dog’s fur to remove snow, ice, and moisture.

Paw Care

Dogs’ paws can be very sensitive to snow and ice. Consider boots during the winter months, especially for dogs with hairy paws or using wax like the “Musher’s Secret” to protect the pads and skin in between them, snow will not build up and freeze and if they do they will not stick to the hair and easily be removed. Snow stuck between the toes and pads form ice balls can be very painful. Trim the hair around your dog’s paws and between the paw pads. To protect your dog’s paws apply a small amount of petroleum jelly, cooking oil or spray before going out for a walk. Clean your dog’s legs and paws after a walk. Use a spray bottle with warm water and gently spray the paws then wipe with a clean towel or paper towel. Salt and other chemicals can irritate the paw pads. Also, most dogs lick their paws and you wouldn’t want them ingesting any toxins.


Good nutrition is very important during the winter months. Dogs that spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities or live outdoors require an increase in caloric intake to generate more energy and ward off the cold. On the other hand, pets that don’t get much exercise in the winter and spend most of their time being couch potatoes should have their caloric intake decreased so that they don’t become over weight.


Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which has a sweet smell and taste making it appealing to pets. Keep antifreeze safely stored and immediately clean-up any spills. Consider using animal friendly de-icing and ice melting products, such as those that contain propylene glycol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, immediately seek veterinary attention.


Puppies and senior dogs don’t tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs. Take them outside only to have them relieve themselves and shovel out a potty area. Puppies may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If this is a problem consider using Wee Wee pads. Arthritic dogs will feel more discomfort in cold weather. Make sure you provide your indoor pets with a warm cozy bed away from drafts.

Car Safety

When taking your pets along for a ride or errands, never leave them alone in the car. The temperature inside a car can quickly become refrigerator cold or even freezing cold. Keep a winter kit in your car that includes blankets, towels, water, bowl, flashlight and first aid kit.

Outdoor Safety

Don’t leave your dog off-leash to run around in snow and icy conditions. Dogs can lose their footing and slip resulting in breaks, fractures and dislocations. More dogs are lost during the winter than any other season. This is because dogs can lose their scent in snowy conditions. Always make sure your dog and cat is wearing ID tags. Icy ponds are another hazard. Don’t walk on frozen ponds or allow your dog to play near or on frozen bodies of water. Dogs love to eat snow and catch snow balls. Be aware that eating snow, even if clean, can cause gastrointestinal upset that can lead to diarrhea, stomachaches and colds.


A pet’s ears, tail, and paws are susceptible to frostbite. Exam your dog for frostbite when outdoors and after coming in from being outdoors for an extended period. Frostbite is characterized by pale white, gray, or blue skin which may be difficult to see under the pet’s fur. If your pet has frostbite, try to thaw the affected area using a towel that has been soaked in lukewarm water. Hold the dripping wet towel on the affected area for 20 minutes, don’t rub. Contact your veterinarian.

Outdoor Pets

Outdoor pets need to be provided with adequate shelter. The dog house or pet shelter should be large enough for the pet to stand up in and turn themselves around, yet small enough to retain body heat. The shelter should be equipped with warm dry bedding such as straw, shavings, or other dry insulating material. Change bedding frequently to keep it clean, dry and warm. Blankets and pillows are not appropriate bedding as they can trap moisture from the snow, rain, ice and mud that the pet drags in. Position the opening or door flap of the pet shelter away from the wind, snow, and rain. Increase the caloric intake of your pet by providing more food and a high quality diet. Make sure your pet always has water and use a heated water bowl to prevent the water from freezing. Be aware that pets need time for their bodies to acclimate to changes in temperature. Sudden changes in temperature can cause illness. In extreme weather, consider bringing your pet indoor, even if it is the garage. If you witness an animal being neglected or not being provided with adequate shelter, please report the situation to your local Animal Control Officer.

Your Training team
Gil & Susie

Posted In Dog Wellness