Winter weather might look gorgeous and romantic on a greetings card but we all know the realities of the season. We know that with the drizzle, the fog, the sleet and snow come snotty noses and crumpled tissues on every square inch of free space, fatigue, comfort eating and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Winter can be a tough time for even the hardiest of bodies to get through, but many of us forget that our beloved pooches are having many of the same issues in the winter weather. We tend to assume that a fur coat insulates your fuzzy friends from the rigours of the season. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Just like us, dogs are affected by cold weather, they can be rendered vulnerable to disease and even hypothermia and as a pet owner you need to take steps to protect them.
How to tell your dog is affected by the cold
Despite their fur coats, if a dog is affected by the cold, they’ll show you in the same way that your son or daughter would. They’ll likely shiver and try to get close to you to keep warm. They may be less enthusiastic towards “walkies” and even rail against going outside.
Keeping them warm
Even if your dog is used to spending most of their time outdoors or in a dog house in the garden, it’s worth bringing them in for as long as possible in the winter months. When taking them for walks, keep an eye out for shivering or uncharacteristic behaviour and if this persists, invest in a winter coat for them.
Your pet’s nutrition is, of course, important all year round but in the cold and dark months, dogs may have additional nutritional requirements. Like us, they need nutrient dense foods to ensure that their bodies function as they should and that their immune systems are robust enough to defend them from infection. Older dogs in particular are susceptible to immune weakness in the winter weather. Many dog owners overcompensate for the season by feeding their dogs extra food but in the winter months quality is far more important than quantity. Your dog will likely not need additional calories but they may need additional nutrients. Ensure that they have a whole foods based diet free of artificial ingredients. Supplement their diet with some salmon oil for dogs. The Omega 3 fatty acids will not only give them a glossy coat but regulate blood pressure and maintain brain health.
Keeping an eye out for seasonal hazards
Aside from the cold, winter brings with it other hazards that can be harmful or even fatal to your pet. Humans treat roads and drives and cars with antifreeze and salt to make them safer. As beneficial as this is for us, it can be harmful to our canine companions. Antifreeze can be spilled onto the drive or roadside and as it has a sweet smell and taste it can draw the attention of dogs. However, it can be fatal if swallowed. Grains of rock salt may also get stuck in paws and create uncomfortable chapping. Be sure to use only pet safe products to treat your drive.