Dogs in the Snow: 6 Winter Safety Tips

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There’s nothing quite like seeing a puppy for the first time experience snow. However, not all canines are suitable for outside play in the winter. So that canines can enjoy the winter wonderland, our experts give winter safety guidelines for dogs in the snow.

Some dogs have thick coats that are meant to keep them warm in cold weather, while others have thin coats that do not keep them warm. Use your best judgment when it comes to spending time outside during winter. Consider your dog’s coat thickness and age, as puppies and senior dogs have a harder time controlling their body temperature.

If it’s too cold for you to go about in your winter coat, it’s too cold for your dog. Other winter safety suggestions from one of our expert vets are listed below.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Snow and Ice

  1. Acclimate to the Cold Gradually
    “Acclimation is the key,” says Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, a veterinarian and Purina’s Senior Manager of Training. It’s totally OK for them to stay outside for longer lengths of time if they appear to be fine and aren’t shivering or wanting to get in.” Begin with brief sessions outside and gradually increase to allow them to acclimate.
  2. Make Using the Bathroom More Efficient
    For toilet time, shovel an area of grass so they have somewhere to go straight away. Encourage your dog to travel to areas that are more protected from snow, ice, and wind instead. After that, give treats to reinforce the excellent behavior and prevent accidents indoors.
  3. Keep an eye out for antifreeze and rock salt.
    Although rock salt is not harmful, it can cause stomach distress and irritate their paws if consumed. Antifreeze has a pleasant flavor, yet it is poisonous. Keep your dog away from blue or green-colored substances found on driveways, sidewalks, and cars. Before they come inside, wipe their paws to eliminate any salt or antifreeze residue they may have licked. This will also help to warm the paws more quickly.
  4. Figure out how to get them to warm up.
    Cover your dog with a towel or blanket if he appears to be cold. You can also use a low-heat blow dryer, but be careful not to overheat his paw pads, as they may burn. Instead, put some rice in a sock and warm it up (place it against your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot). If you know your dog gets chilly easily, buy sweaters, coats, and booties ahead of time.
  5. In the winter, keep your dog’s paws warm.
    To ease your dog’s cracked paw pads, try a moisturizer developed for cow udders. Keep him occupied with a puzzle feeder or a treat after you’ve applied it so he doesn’t lick it off right away. Put your dog in booties in the winter to protect his paws and prevent broken pads. Otherwise, every time he comes inside, clean his paws.
  6. Don’t Forget About Exercise
    Due to pent-up energy, idle time might lead to disruptive or anxious behavior. Continue walking your dog in the winter and allowing him to play outside once you’ve accustomed him to the cold and prepared him for it.

You could even get crafty and construct a little agility course out of snow mounds. If the outside is too cold or icy, consider an indoor dog gym, a puzzle feeder, or indoor games to keep them occupied.

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