Winter brings a wonderland of snow and cozy evenings, but it can also be a challenge to keep our canines active and engaged. Whether you have a playful winter puppy, a majestic big dog built for the cold, or even a pack of dogs that all have different needs for cold temperatures, finding fun and safe ways to exercise them during the colder months is essential.
After all, freezing temperatures can make it tempting to skimp on our dogs’ exercise needs, which can be bad for their mental and physical health. Studies suggest that as many as 55.8% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese, which is linked to most kinds of canine disease. Also, research proves that bored dogs are incredibly prone to destructive problem behaviors.
This means that, as pet parents, we simply can’t afford to let our dogs stay indoors with nothing to do in the winter. So, from indoor games to adventurous outdoor activities, this guide will explore how to keep your dogs active and happy in the winter. So, grab a warm coat for yourself and a fluffy jacket for your pup – it's time to make the most of the winter season with your four-legged companions!
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- How to Keep Dogs Warm Outside During the Winter
- How to Protect Dog Paws and Nose in Winter
- Tips for Walking Dogs in the Winter
- How to Exercise Your Dog in the Winter
- Other Things to Do with Your Dog in the Winter
How to Keep Dogs Warm Outside During the Winter
Keeping your dogs warm and comfortable during winter outdoor activities is crucial for their health and well-being. Here are some effective ways to ensure your canines stay cozy while enjoying the chilly outdoors:
Invest in good-quality winter gear for your dogs, especially if they have short fur or are small breeds. A well-fitting dog coat or sweater can provide the necessary insulation. Remember, big winter dogs with thicker coats may not need as much extra layering.
Monitor the time your dog spends outside. Even with protective clothing, it's important to keep outdoor sessions short to prevent hypothermia or frostbite.
Read more: Winter Dog Care: Gear, Tips, and Tricks
Dry and Warm Post-Walk
After outdoor activities, make sure to dry your dog thoroughly. Pay special attention to their paws and between their toes to remove any ice or snow.
If your dog spends a significant amount of time outdoors, ensure they have a warm and insulated shelter that protects them from the elements.
For pet parents who can't always be outside with their dogs, the Petcube Camera is an excellent way to keep an eye on them. This smart camera allows you to monitor your dog’s activities in real time, ensuring they are safe and not showing signs of discomfort due to the cold.
Shorter days mean less daylight. Use reflective gear or LED collars so your dog is visible during dusk and dawn walks.
Hydration and Nutrition
Dogs may need more calories in the winter to stay warm. Also, ensure they have access to fresh, unfrozen water.
By following these tips, you can help your dog enjoy the winter season safely and comfortably. Whether it's a brisk walk in the snow or a quick play session in the backyard, a little preparation goes a long way toward keeping your winter dogs happy and healthy.
How to Protect Dog Paws and Nose in Winter
The chilly winter months can be harsh on your dog's paws and nose, making protection essential. Here's how you can safeguard these sensitive areas:
Just like human skin, a dog's paws and nose can become dry and cracked in cold weather. Use pet-safe moisturizers or balms to keep their skin hydrated and prevent cracking. One of my favorite home remedies for dry noses and paws is simply to break open vitamin E gel capsules and mix vitamin E with shea butter. I’ll apply this mixture to the nose and paw pads to both moisturize.
Dog boots are a great way to protect your dog's paws from cold surfaces, ice, and harmful de-icing chemicals. Ensure they fit comfortably and that your dog is accustomed to wearing them.
Wipe Down After Walks
After outdoor activities, wipe your dog's paws and nose to remove any ice, snow, or de-icing chemicals that can be harmful if ingested. Since dogs like to lick their paws, it’s important to make sure that nothing harmful is stuck to their paw pads.
Trim Paw Hair
Long hair between the pads of your dog's paws can lead to ice accumulation. Keep these areas trimmed to minimize ice buildup.
Avoid Harmful Chemicals
Be mindful of where you walk your dog, as some de-icing products can be toxic. Opt for pet-friendly ice melts for your own driveway or walkways.
Apply A Protective Layer To The Nose
As a trainer with a multi-dog household, I always choose shea butter as a safe moisturizer for my dogs’ noses in cold, dry air. It provides a protective layer against the cold and seals in moisture. Many experts suggest Vaseline, but since dogs tend to lick their noses, I prefer a safer, more natural remedy to prevent them from accidentally swallowing petroleum jelly.
Despite our best efforts, accidents can happen. Paws and noses are susceptible to frostbite and other winter-related injuries. In such cases, having a financial safety net like the Petcube’s Emergency Fund can be invaluable.
This fund covers up to $3,000 in emergency vet fees, ensuring your dog can receive immediate care if they suffer from a winter-related injury. Plus, blog readers can enjoy a 27% discount on their subscriptions by using this exclusive link.
By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your dog's paws and nose remain healthy and protected throughout the winter, allowing them to enjoy the season's joys without discomfort or harm.
Tips for Walking Dogs in the Winter
Taking your dog for a walk in the winter requires some extra considerations to ensure both your safety and your dog's. Here are some tips for enjoyable winter walks:
Check the Temperature
Always check the temperature and wind chill before heading out. Extreme colds can be harmful, especially for smaller or short-haired breeds.
Choose the Right Time
Try to walk during the warmer parts of the day, usually around midday, when the sun can provide a bit of warmth.
Stick to clear, gritted pathways to avoid icy surfaces that could lead to slips and falls for both you and your dog.
Keep Walks Short
In very cold weather, it's better to have shorter, more frequent walks to prevent overexposure to the cold.
Visible and Reflective Gear
With shorter daylight hours, ensure you and your dog are visible. Use reflective leashes, collars, or vests.
Wet weather combined with cold can lead to hypothermia. If it's snowing or raining, consider a waterproof coat for your dog and dry them off thoroughly after the walk.
Observe Your Dog
How to Exercise Your Dog in the Winter
Keeping your dog active during the winter is important for their physical and mental health. Here are some ideas for exercising your dog when it's too cold or icy outside:
Engage your dog in indoor activities like tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, or fetch with a soft toy in a hallway or large room.
Puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys can keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically engaged while indoors.
Use the time indoors for training sessions. Teaching new tricks or reinforcing old ones is a great way to keep your dog's mind active.
Arrange playdates with other dogs. This can be a fun way for your dog to interact and play in a controlled, warm environment.
With proper training, a treadmill can be a great tool for keeping your dog fit during the winter. Start slow and always supervise treadmill sessions.
Short Outdoor Activities
When the weather permits, short outdoor activities like brief walks or a quick game of fetch can be beneficial.
Doggy Daycare or Indoor Dog Parks
Consider a doggy daycare or an indoor dog park for socializing and exercising in a temperature-controlled environment.
By combining indoor activities with shorter, safer outdoor exercises, you can keep your dog active and healthy throughout the winter months. Remember, every dog is different, so tailor these activities to suit your dog's breed, age, and health condition.
Other Things to Do with Your Dog in the Winter
Winter offers unique opportunities for you and your dog to enjoy the season together beyond the usual walks and indoor play. Here are some activities to consider:
Many dogs love exploring new trails, and winter landscapes provide a beautiful backdrop. Ensure your dog is well-equipped with warm gear and keep hikes manageable.
Winter camping with dogs can be an exhilarating experience. Make sure to have appropriate gear for both you and your pet, including insulated bedding and protective clothing.
Pro-tip: When venturing out for winter hiking or camping with your dog, having a GPS tracker for your pet is highly recommended. This technology becomes crucial in ensuring your dog's safety, especially in snowy or unfamiliar terrain where they might wander off.
A GPS tracker can give you peace of mind, allowing you to locate your dog quickly if they get lost. Additionally, in the vast and quiet landscapes of winter, a GPS tracker collar is a valuable tool for keeping tabs on your dog’s whereabouts.
Dog-Friendly Winter Events
Look for local winter events that are dog-friendly, like holiday markets or festivals.
If your area gets snow, simple activities like playing fetch in the snow can be exciting for dogs, especially for breeds with thick double coats that thrive in the snow. Just make sure to keep them warm and dry.
Winter is a great time to work on new training challenges indoors, keeping your dog's mind sharp and engaged.
Capture the beauty of your dog against the stunning winter scenery. It can be a fun way to bond and create lasting memories.
Can I leave my dog in the car in the winter?
Leaving your dog in the car during the winter can be dangerous, just like in the summer. Cars can quickly become very cold, putting your dog at risk of hypothermia. Always err on the side of caution and avoid leaving your dog in the car during the winter.
Can I leave my dog in the garage in the winter?
Leaving your dog in the garage during the winter is not advisable unless it's properly insulated and maintains a safe, comfortable temperature. Garages can become as cold as the outdoor environment, posing risks of hypothermia and discomfort to your pet.
Winter doesn't have to be a time of inactivity for you and your dog. With a little creativity and preparation, you can enjoy a variety of fun and engaging activities together. From winter hiking to cozy indoor training sessions, there's no shortage of ways to keep your dog happy and healthy during the colder months. Remember to always prioritize your dog's comfort and safety, whether you're adventuring outdoors or finding new ways to play indoors.
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