If you live in a climate where the weather gets down right chilly or snowy and you have a dog; you may have some concerns about keeping your dog safe and warm during the cold weather months. Here are a few tips for surviving the cold weather comfortably with your dog.
Cold weather months can bring with them not just lower temperatures, but snow, ice, cold moisture and many different safety issues for you to pay attention to if you intend to keep your dog safe and warm.
The first issue that needs addressing is whether or not to keep your dog outside after the temperature drops to uncomfortable lows? Most dogs and all cats are safer if they are brought inside during the colder weather months. Actually no matter what the season if your dog has short hair, is very young, or if your dog is old, the dog should never be kept outside without supervision. Dogs that have short coats will feel more comfortable when they do go outside if you put them in a sweater, like when taking them out for a walk.
Wind-chill can actually threaten a dog’s life. If you do have an outdoor dog, you must protect it by providing it with a doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and to lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in the dog’s body heat. The floor of the doghouse should be raised up off of the ground by a few inches and should be covered with cedar shavings or fresh, clean straw. The doghouse should face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or a very heavy plastic for protection from the weather elements.
If you do have a dog that spends a lot of time outside during the cold weather months, be sure to feed him/her more food. An outdoor dog needs more food to keep warm as keeping warm in the cold weather takes a lot of energy and energy requires more food. The water dish needs to have fresh, unfrozen water in it several times a day. Outdoor dogs should have plastic food and water dishes outside, because if you use metal dishes when the temperature is low, your dog’s tongue can stick and freeze to the metal.
If you live in an area where there are a lot of outdoor animals that are free to roam or are wild; be sure to bang on your vehicle’s hood before starting the engine to scare away any animal that may have taken refuge under your hood for warmth.
There are two safety issues that some pet owners either forget are not aware of during the cold weather months. The first safety issue is that of antifreeze. Antifreeze is a deadly liquid that can kill your dog if it licks the antifreeze. The antifreeze will smell and taste sweet to the dog. If you spill any antifreeze, wipe it up immediately. The best bet is to use antifreeze-coolant that is made with propylene glycol, as it is not as harmful in small amounts to your dog, wildlife or your child.
Another cold weather safety issue is when you place salt or other chemicals on concrete to prevent slippage. The salt and other chemicals can get on your dog’s paws and irritate his/her mouth when the paws are licked. To prevent mouth irritation, wipe the dog’s paws with a damp towel when they come in from outside. You can also find de-icing products that are made to be safe for dogs to walk on.
Dogs are social animals and they really want to be inside with the family any time of year, but especially on cold weather day and nights. Your dog deserves to be safe and warm inside with you.