Winter Wellness: Keeping your dog happy and healthy in the colder months

Posted by Laura Greenland on

Winter is definitely here in the UK, with dark, crisp mornings and early evening sunsets meaning there is less time spent outdoors and a need to keep warm. But embracing the winter chill alongside your furry friend brings a unique blend of joy and health benefits for you both. Beyond the sheer fun of exploring the sparkling white landscape, the brisk winter air invigorates both you and your dog, promoting exercise that contributes to physical and mental well-being all round. So long as we are wrapped up and prepared, these chilly outings can be a delightful and healthy part of our winter routine. 

When venturing outdoors with your dog during the cold weather, it is essential to take extra care to ensure their well-being needs are being met. Here are a few things to consider to keep your dog healthy in the cold weather when out and about this season:

Winter clothing

Just as we are wrapped up in our winter woollies, so too can pup. Dress your dog in a suitable dog coat or sweater to provide an extra layer of insulation. Some breeds, especially those with short fur, may need additional protection against the cold. Consider investing in a cold weather dog coat to keep them warm during walks. You could also consider adding dog boots to protect their paws from cold surfaces and ice.

Paw care 

Although their paw pads are naturally thick and hard wearing, your dog can still be affected by ice burn if the ground is particularly cold or if they are in contact with the ground too long in winter weather. As part of your care and grooming routine, consider applying a paw balm to your dog's paw pads before going outside to protect them from cold surfaces, salt, and ice. As aforementioned, you could also use dog boots which provide that extra layer of protection between their pads and the ground. 

Shorter walks with play breaks

On cold winter days, consider taking shorter but more frequent walks. During these outings, incorporate breaks for play and mental stimulation to keep your dog active without overexertion, keeping their body temperature up and the blood moving. Cold weather doesn't mean your dog should skip exercise, but instead modify the intensity and duration of your outdoor activity, as it is essential to ensure they get regular exercise to maintain their health. If they are not a cold-weather breed, it could be best to limit the amount of time your dog spends outdoors in extremely cold weather, and keep to the warmer parts of the day if possible.

Choose dog-friendly paths

When choosing your winter walk adventures, try to opt for paths and trails that are less likely to have icy patches or frozen surfaces. Be cautious around areas treated with de-icing chemicals, as they can be harmful to your dog's paws and health.

Adjust meals and nutrition

During the winter months, pay extra attention to your dog's nutrition to help maintain their health and wellbeing. As with our own bodies, the cold weather can increase the need for more calories to keep us warm and functioning at our best, so consider adjusting their diet to be more calorie dense yet still healthy. Include nutrient-rich foods that support their immune system, such as those high in vitamins and antioxidants. Additionally, provide a well-balanced mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to help keep them warm and maintain a healthy coat. Remember to monitor their water intake as well, as staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as it is in summer. 

Stay dry and keep warm

Cold wet rain is part of the season and can’t always be avoided, but being cold and damp is not the best way to keep your dog’s health in the best condition, especially if they are older or have particular health needs. To be prepared, consider using a dog raincoat during rainy or snowy weather, and towel-dry your dog thoroughly after walks to remove any moisture from their coat and paws. This helps to avoid any potential skin irritations and discomfort developing and reduces the risk of fungal or bacterial infections. Also, keep their bed or safe space a place to come home and recover in, by using warm, comfortable blankets or a heated pet bed. 

Winter walks can be a beautiful experience to share together and making a few adjustments for colder weather can help you both remain healthy and happy for the season. Be mindful of pup displaying any signs of discomfort, such as shivering, lifting their paws, or trying to get indoors. If it's extremely cold, windy or wet, consider keeping outdoor activities to a minimum and focus on indoor play and exercise. Additionally, ensure that your dog is familiar with and comfortable in any protective clothing you use, such as coats or boots, before venturing out in colder conditions, and incorporate these wellness practices into your routines to make them familiar. 

Each dog is unique, and their tolerance for cold weather can vary. If in any doubt, consult with your vet for personalised advice based on your dog's breed, age, and health. 

Hope you enjoy some wonderful wintery adventures! 

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