The crackle of your wood fireplace, the pillowy softness of your favorite blanket, and a dollop of marshmallow creme in your cup of hot cocoa. They all make it easy to forget the arctic blast outside.
When the time comes to face it, you have the outerwear to keep you warm. But what about your puppy?
Sleeping snugly by your side, you assess your puppy’s paws, his coat, and wonder if you’re doing enough? To make sure, let’s review three puppy care tips for the winter.
- Keep Your Puppy Well Groomed
Skip the typical trim or cut you would give your puppy in hotter months. During the winter, puppies need their full coat for warmth. It’s still important to maintain their hair. So, comb and brush it consistently to avoid knots. Matted hair is less efficient blocking cold air, rain, and snow. Bathe your puppy indoors with warm water. Keep baths shorter, and dry him off as quickly as possible. Dogs take longer to dry in the winter, so make sure they’re completely dry before venturing outside. Keep the hair around their paws trimmed to help prevent ice and snow from collecting between their paw pads. These little balls of hard snow can stick to your puppy’s hair, making it very cold and painful. After every walk, check their paws for cuts, cracks, scrapes, and foreign debris. When practical, nourish your puppy’s paws with a little petroleum jelly – just watch your floors. If he’ll cooperate, protective booties are best (we’ll talk more about that later).
- Reduce Your Outdoor Activity
Don’t try to maintain your same outdoor regime in the winter, especially on those exceptionally cold days. Take shorter walks and potty breaks with your puppy. More time inside isn’t an excuse for puppies to be lazy. Exercise is an essential part of puppy care. Adjust for safe indoor games like tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, and a milder version of fetch. If you don’t mind your puppy running about the house, or if there’s a designated area, encourage it. Be careful of slippery ice when you’re out outdoors. It’s as dangerous for puppies as it is for us. If your puppy slips, it can cause strains or sprains, or worse yet, he could fall through. So, avoid icy bodies of water. Practice proper puppy care, and use a leash during winter walks. This prevents puppies from running off and finding those slippery patches or icy ponds.
- Dress Your Puppy for Winter
Yes, clothing. Not for looks or fashion, for puppy care. Small, toy, or short-haired dogs often need clothing. Just like humans, dogs shiver when they’re cold, so watch for the sign.You’ll want a knit sweater with a turtleneck or a jacket that covers from neck to tail. For wetter winters, you may want to consider a breathable rainproof layer too. Just as you wouldn’t wear clothes outside, be sure your puppy’s clothes are dry before use. If your puppy goes out with a wet coat, his body temperature will drop, and he’ll get cold.Unless the temperature in your house is chilly, remove the clothing once you’re back inside. As precious as he looks, your puppy won’t realize the full benefits of his sweater if he wears it all the time.Lastly, don’t forget to cover their paws. There’s a limit to how much cold their pads can withstand, and the salt on the ground irritates too. Booties keep their paws warm and salt-free. Plus, if you start the routine when they’re puppies, you’ll have less trouble with booties when they reach adulthood.
These tips will help your puppy stay safe and warm through the winter, so both of you can enjoy more comfy, fireside days.