Many of our readers live with a four-legged friend, who may provide vital assistance as guide or therapy dogs, or act as a trusted companion. It’s worth remembering that even if they’re dogs who are bred for the cold weather – like huskies – they’ll still feel the effects of the cold. Just as in summer we say “if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them,” dogs need special care and attention over the winter months. Not really sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Try to limit time spent outside

Two dogs

This one is the most difficult one if you have a service or therapy dog, or even if your dog just likes being outside. Despite being the owners of one of nature’s finest winter coats, a dog’s fur doesn’t protect its entire body, which means that their noses, paws, and ears are in direct contact with the elements at all times. Even with their thick coats, dogs can still get hypothermia and frostbite, so make sure that if it’s really very cold, your pooch is only outside for a little while at a time.

Get Your (Dog’s) Coat

Shorthair breeds – like terriers and bulldogs – hold less heat in their coats, as do smaller dogs like chihuahuas, so if your furry friend hasn’t got much fur at all, it may be a good idea to get a dog jacket for them to protect them from the elements. They’re really easy to find both online and in pet shops, and come in an assortment of cool colours and styles so your dog can keep warm and safe while looking stylish as heck this winter.

Mix up Mealtime

A dog with its muzzle covered in snow

Here’s a fun fact for you: dogs can put on a significant amount of weight in the winter due to their owner’s resistance to walking them in the darker evenings. That’s entirely understandable and coupled with the fact that your doggy will be spending a lot more time in the window than the garden, it starts to make a lot more sense. It’s a good idea to alter your feeding habits during winter to reflect both the effect of the weather and the less time spent exercising. Feeding your dog a little bit less, but loading up on healthy fats and protein can do them the world of good.

Wash your Dog’s Feet

A long haired border collie with its little toes in the snow

The little pads on your dog’s feet need extra care during the winter, because all manner of rubbish can get inside the spaces between them and hurt your four-legged friend. Ice, snow, anti-freeze and de-icer can build up on a dog’s paws after they’ve been out and about, and this can be dangerous. Ice and snow can cause their paws to chap – a lot like our lips do – and de-icing chemicals are poisonous. It’s a good idea to wipe down your dog’s paws once they come inside during winter, and check their paws for any cracks or sores, which could be hurting them.

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Image credits:
Fleckenpower – Maja Dumat/Flickr
Fetch X2 – James Vincent Wardhaugh/Flickr
Koda in the snow – Misuk/Flickr
A Cold Stare – Capt_Tain Tom/Flickr