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Don’t forget about your outdoor dog this winter! Outdoor dogs are at risk for hypothermia, frostbite, and other scary conditions. Here are a few ways you can be proactive and keep your outdoor dog safe, warm, and healthy all throughout the cold months.
Many health problems tend to flare up in cold weather. It’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a checkup before winter begins. Arthritis gets worse in cold weather, and pets with diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease might also have trouble in the cold. Your vet can determine whether your dog needs medicine to keep health problems under control.
Every dog is different, and some dogs are more susceptible to cold than others. Dog breeds that were developed in the north and have thick coats — such as Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, or Newfoundlands — will have a higher tolerance for cold than dogs with thin coats, such as greyhounds. Smaller dogs get cold more easily than large dogs, and the color of a dog’s coat also plays a factor in how quickly it will get cold. Dogs with a dark colored coat will absorb more sunlight and stay warmer.
When should you bring your dog inside? If your outdoor dog is underweight, has health problems, or is an older dog, consider bringing him or her inside for the entire winter. (You might also consider senior pet insurance for older dogs with health problems.) If your dog isn’t used to being inside the house, you may have to invest some time into training, but it will be worth it to keep your dog safe and warm.
Otherwise, make sure to bring your dog inside if the temperature is below 32° F. If the temperature drops to 20° F or below, this is especially important — your dog will be at risk for hypothermia or frostbite.
The doghouse itself should provide ample room for your dog to stand up and turn around, but it should still be small enough to allow the dog’s body heat to warm the entire shelter. Consider covering the floor of the doghouse with straw to add some extra insulation and allow your dog to make a warm nest.
You can also cover the doghouse door with a rubber mat, plastic, or burlap to keep the warmth inside. The one thing you need to avoid is using any kind of heater; unsupervised, this might cause burns or start a fire.
When you leave your dog’s food and water outside, the water bowl might freeze over, and dry food will become soggy in the rain or snow. Make a habit of regularly checking to make sure your dog’s food and water are good to go. You can use a heated water bowl to prevent ice forming on the surface.
Winterize your dog’s paws to prevent cracking, frostbite, and other health conditions. Trim the hair around your dog’s pads so ice clusters won’t gather there; watch out for rock salt, which can cause irritation; and consider purchasing a balm that can be applied to your dog’s paws as a moisturizer. Small dogs or dogs with pre-existing health problems could also benefit from a sweater.
If your dog’s fur becomes matted, it will be less likely to retain heat. Groom your dog regularly throughout the winter and consider giving him or her a supplement or vitamin to help your dog’s coat stay thick and healthy. Check your dog’s paws regularly, too. If your dog has walked across a patch of rock salt, wipe his or her paws with a moist towelette to prevent painful irritation.
If you’ve been considering pet insurance but haven’t taken the plunge, the New Year is a great time to start something new. Get a quote today and let us help you figure out the best pet insurance for your dog.
Guest Blogger: Hailey Hudson