Winter is Coming!
Australian winter. Not exactly drastic compared to some, I know. When I think of places that get actual freezing temperatures with fluffy white stuff falling from the sky I imagine this..
The thought of walking outside and having snot freeze to my face is as terrifying to me as adorable, tiny kittens are to my dog, Billy. So, to all you impressive people who cope with those sorts of actual winters – respect!
And to Billy – Come on, mate, they’re kittens!
While I may jest, it does get reasonably cold here in winter, particularly overnight. Us humans don’t run around outdoors at midnight in our birthday suits dancing in the rain, (well except for that one guy up the street – just stop it, Jim). Instead we rug up in nice warm clothes and take shelter from the wind, rain and hail – our pets shouldn’t be any different. Don’t be fooled by their luxurious fur coats – they acclimatise to the warmer months just as we do, and they definitely feel the cold.
Is Your Dog Mostly Indoors or Outdoors?
Some dogs spend all winter (and every other season!) inside the house lazing about on the sofa while their families hand feed them eye fillet served medium-rare. Others race around backyards, barrel back and forth in the local park, and splash in every mud puddle within reach. And there are some, like my two dogs, that live a fairly even balance of the two (minus the eye fillet – my dogs prefer porterhouse).
It’s a great idea to keep your dog’s lifestyle in mind when considering their needs during the colder months.
This, of course, is most important for the dogs that spend a lot of their time outdoors.
Protection from the elements – it goes without saying really. Our pets absolutely must have shelter. Keep in mind this doesn’t just mean a roof over their heads; protection from wind is just as important.
Coats and jackets – not only do they look schmick, but they are a really great idea for helping dogs to stay warm, especially
- Small dogs,
- Dogs with short coats
- Dogs without a lot of body fat.
And dogs like Baxter who like to sit in the snow…
Raised, padded beds – Outdoor beds or kennels need to be raised so the cold and damp from the ground doesn’t seep in. Some nice padding and blankets are also important for comfort, particularly for creaky older dogs who may be experiencing some arthritis.
Bath time – If your pooch has rolled in something extra disgusting or is generally just starting to become Captain McStinky Pants, a bath may be unavoidable. Be sure to use nice warm water and dry them off thoroughly afterwards though.
Yoshi! You stink!!
As you can imagine, the dog that snuggles up inside by the toasty warm fire all day should generally not be consuming as many calories as the dog outside experiencing colder temperatures and staying active. You may need to adjust your pooch’s diet to ensure they don’t become too fat or lose too much weight.
Don’t forget to always have a source of clean, fresh water available as well. While ice blocks can make fun treats in Summer, they’re not so great when it’s cold.
How nice is it to curl up on the sofa with a movie or a good book when the weather’s rubbish! I remember those glorious days, before two dogs, a cat, and two small children completely monopolized every waking minute of my time at home. Snuggle time indoors is great, but it’s still super important to brave the miserable wet days in the name of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for us or our furkids. So throw on a coat or grab an umbrella (preferably not one that immediately blows inside-out like mine!) and get out there!
If you peek out the window and it’s just too hideous outside to even contemplate a walk, improvise! There are loads of ways you and your dog can have fun in the house. Do some tricks training, hide some little treats around the place, or just have a play.
Ummm, Baxter? I don’t think that’s how you use a treadmill.
Being cold puts extra stress on bodies. This can lead to reduced immune function and a greater susceptibility to getting sick. This is of extra relevance in the very young, very old and immunocompromised.
Just like for us, the aches and pains of arthritis or old injuries will be exacerbated by cold and inactivity. For a guide on helping dogs with arthritis, check out Arthritis in Dogs – Seven Ways you can Ease the Pain.
Sometimes pets get less attention in the colder months, because the activities we enjoy with them when it’s warm aren’t quite as fun. It also tends to be the quietest time of the year in veterinary clinics for check ups. Keep a close eye on your furbaby over the winter months, and if you notice any changes in energy levels, appetite, thirst, or just behaviour in general, it’s worth a check over for peace of mind.
And Don’t Forget the Routine Health Care
Appropriate parasite prevention is an individual thing for every dog. This depends on many factors, including where in the world you live and which parasites are a problem there. The important ones for most dogs include intestinal worms, heartworm, and fleas, (and in some places, ticks) and we really need to stay on top of these all year round.
A lot of people tell me fleas aren’t a problem in winter, and to some degree they’re right. It’s a lot less likely for a pet to be crawling with fleas when temperatures are cold, because fleas reproduce better when it’s warm. The mistake often made though, is to think this is a good reason to lapse on flea prevention. In actual fact, this is the perfect time to completely eliminate any fleas from your home environment and prevent any from coming home on your pets after a visit to the dog park or a wander around the local neighbourhood. It’s much easier to achieve a flea-free home in winter than when fleas are running rampant during summer.
Remember to keep up to date with those vaccinations, too.
Winter Considerations for Dogs – In a Nutshell
That’s about it I think. My pal Baxter and I wish you a peaceful and relaxing day. Now move over Baxter, there’s room on that sofa for two!
What do you guys think? Have I left out anything important? I’d love to hear your tips too!
This post was sponsored by the good people at Frontline. All views and opinions are my own, and they can’t be held responsible in any way for my terrible sense of humour or poor grammar.