Cold winter months are just as tough on pets as they are on people. Keep your dog safe in cold weather with the following tips from pet expert Jami Ippolito, founder of Paw Naturals in Chicago.
Steer clear of salt. The salt most commonly used to melt snow and ice can burn your pets’ paws. Use a moisturizer to protect delicate padding, such as coconut oil, or other specially-desinged wax-like products that form a barrier between paw pads and the salty, icy ground. Booties work well, too. Talk to your local pet store to see what may be best for your size and breed of dog based on their outdoor activity level.
Mindful menus. While it’s important to always serve your dog nutritious food, it’s especially vital during the winter months. Fishes like salmon, sardines, and whitefish provide important omega-3 fatty acids that help ward off dry, itchy skin, maintain a healthy, shiny coat, and preserve brain function and mental acuity.
Choose clothing carefully. While most dogs need some type of protection against the elements, short-haired dogs require extra warmth. Purchase a nice warm jacket for your pup—preferably one that’s water-resistant to keep him from getting wet in the snow, sleet, or rain.
Pamper paws (and skin). Much like the way winter weather can lead to dry, chapped skin in people, it can wreak havoc on your pup. Moisturize paws and skin with coconut oil to prevent the itching and cracking brought on by cold weather-related dryness. When it comes time for grooming, don’t overdo it, and be sure to use an all-natural moisture-rich shampoo and conditioner.
Boredom busters. The inability to run, play, and spend long periods of time outside can lead to your dog feeling cooped up. Ward off boredom and keep them active by making sure you have plenty of raw bones, puzzles, and new toys around.
Remember: if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. Further, snow can dilute dogs’ sense of smell, which is why so many dogs get lost in the winter months. Always keep your pet leashed, even if he’s normally well-behaved and stays by your side––it’s simply not worth the risk.