A dog’s life is a happy life, especially during the summer, spring, and even the early fall. But if you don’t take care of your dogs in winter, they can start to feel low. And when winter really hits, it can be tough to keep your furry friend warm when they’re outside.
How can you keep their paw pads warm when they’re outside? And how do you keep big or small dogs active when the temperatures drop?
Check out these fun activities for dogs in winter. Keep your active dog happy and healthy, but remember to keep them warm and safe at the same time.
Caring For Your Dog During Winter: Indoor Training Where It’s Warm And Cozy
When you were a kid and the winter weather got bad, wouldn’t your teachers bring recess indoors? They knew you had some pent-up energy you had to release — in spite of low temperatures threatening frostbite.
So, during freezing weather, make a plan for your pooch. Believe it or not, indoor training can help your dog exercise their mind and burn off some of that restless energy.
Training your dog helps them learn to socialize. And a cozy indoor day is a great time to teach your dog to greet guests politely. You can even practice dog walking them on a leash inside.
Obedience training offers your pup the physical activity they need to burn off the winter weight they might accumulate from sleeping more and not getting to play outside as much.
Winter Safety For Your Pup: Remember That Dogs Can Get Frostbite
Ensure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink. Summer isn’t the only time your furry friend could get dehydrated. And snow does not count. A full bowl of water should always be available to your pup.1
Now, here’s a biggie: Don’t let your dog out alone in the cold for too long. All dogs are susceptible to frostbite. In cold temperatures, you should always cap your pet’s time spent outdoors. Frostbite is no fun for anyone — especially your furry friend.2
Also, make sure your dog has appropriate shelter. You want your pooch to stay warm and dry. Try to help them avoid a draft as well. One way you can help your pup during cold winters is to keep blankets in their favorite places. This way, no matter how frigid it may get, they can bundle up nice and cozy.
If your dog comes in from the snow or the rain cold and wet, use a hairdryer to blow them dry immediately. Don’t forget your pup’s paws. When your pup gets too cold, their paw pads might crack or get cut. If your dog’s paw pads get cracked, it’s okay to apply a tiny bit of petroleum jelly.3
And finally, be very aware of antifreeze. There are times when antifreeze can puddle up in your driveway or garage. It’s extremely hazardous to animals. Here’s the thing: it actually smells and tastes good to your furry friend. But antifreeze can be lethal, so help your dog avoid it at all costs.4
Get An Evaluation First From Your Dog’s Veterinarian
Once winter arrives, make sure to carve out time for your dog to visit their veterinarian for an evaluation. This is especially important if you change up their exercise routine. It’s best to know where they stand health-wise.
Your dog’s veterinarian can talk to you about what type of weather conditions your pup is able to withstand based on their breed and health. They can assess your pet for health issues that might actually affect their ability to adjust to colder weather.
Outdoor Cold Weather Activities For Your Active Dog: Warm Attire Like Sweaters And Booties
Doggy clothes aren’t just for fun. They’re also functional. Putting your dog in a sweater, jacket, or letting them wear booties outside can do a lot to protect your pup from the elements.
Not all dog bodies are built to weather the cold. And different breeds have different levels of tolerance for freezing weather. Small dogs have a much harder time with harsh weather than big dogs do.5
When it comes to small dogs, help them protect their paws from the ice, cold, and snow by dressing them in pooch booties, pup sweaters, and doggie coats for extra warmth. Bonus: They’ll look adorable, too.
And if your dog’s clothes get wet, change them into dry gear immediately. Believe it or not, your dog’s normal body temperature should be somewhere between 101°F and 102.5°F. Temperatures under 100°F are actually considered hypothermia. A cold, wet dog can possibly become prone to hypothermia. So, always keep your pooch warm and dry.6
Pup Play Dates Are Great Exercise In Winter
Garages and basements are great locations to construct indoor obstacle courses for your dog and their friends. Tunnels, tables, and jumps can be so fun for your dog and their canine mates. A homemade course is easy to make, and you can change it up whenever your pup seems to master it.
And schedule a couple of playdates for your furry friend and their neighbors. Not only will you be giving your pooch an opportunity to burn energy, but you’ll also be socializing your dog — a big key to their health and well-being.7
Winter Days For Dogs
In the end, just because the season changes doesn’t mean it’s time to get lazy and spend months lounging with your dog on the couch. Your pup needs all the same kinds of stimulation, attention, and love they get in spring and summer.
Exercise your pooch. Keep them warm. Be consistent with your dog’s diet. Allow them to socialize. These are things your dog needs to stay healthy and happy year-round. And don’t forget — wintertime cuddles can warm you up, too.
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About the author
Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM loves animals, and is passionate about keeping them healthy and happy as long as possible. He has received more than 30 awards due to his expertise in the field, and The American Veterinary Medical Foundation recently named Dr. Richter “America’s Favorite Veterinarian.” Dr. Richter has been at the forefront of pet nutrition for two decades, and he is also the author of the bestselling “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide.”