For many dog owners, a change in season doesn’t call for too much concern or change routines too dramatically.
Depending on the dog breed you own and care for, winter can and should have some special consideration.
Consideration and practices that are designed to ensure that your dog remains safe during cold weather while allowing you to still provide essential activities such as exercise or even the ability to potty outside.
The rest of this brief discussion is going to cover what you need to understand about your dog’s safety during the cold months and the winter.
We will also touch on some tips that are meant to make the winter not only great for snuggling up with your dog during the holiday season but also safe and enjoyable for any activities you decide to partake in.
Let’s jump into those details now.
Why Cold Weather Changes Routine and Considerations For Dog’s Safety
Before diving into the specific tips, I think it’s important to cover why any changes would ever need to take place with your routine.
Most individuals raising a dog would likely think that limiting the time outdoors is enough to keep a dog safe from snow and cold weather.
What most individuals fail to remember is that we also change in the colder months.
Our homes change and our habits change in the colder months.
Perhaps you use items such as space heaters in the home and you have recently adopted a new puppy.
This is 1 example of something to be aware of and to keep your dog away from.
Not only for the dog’s safety but for the safety of the home to reduce the chances of an incident taking place such as a housefire.
The point being, caring for a dog when the season changes, snow starts falling and temperatures begin plummeting may seem very easy and like most of it would be common sense.
The rest of this discussion is to provide you with the information that likely has not been thought of.
Ultimately leaving you better prepared for the first winter with your new dog.
1.) Don’t Leave Your Dog Outdoors In The Winter
Depending on the dog breed you are raising or recently adopted, it’s 100% plausible that you have been using an outdoor living situation for your dog such as an outdoor dog house with some form of insulation.
This is not uncommon nor cruel in any fashion.
I know several individuals who do this with their dogs and it’s never an issue until the cold Illinois months begin.
However, unless the outdoor area you have your dog spending a majority of their time is heated efficiently and protected from the elements, it won’t be suffice for a dog in the winter months.
When the temperatures begin to fall or the elements such as snow begin to present, it’s time to move your dog back indoors for the winter.
Again, this assuming an outdoor area has no heating mechanism.
Dogs, while usually comfortable for short burst of time outdoors in the elements, will not be comfortable or safe in the winter with an outdoor living situation.
2.) Adjust Routines For Temperatures and Dress Your Dog Accordingly
Routines are tough to break. That’s completely understandable.
Maybe you have a certain path or distance you walk with your dog each day at the same time.
This is great during the months that allow for it but doesn’t work great when the weather begins taking a turn for cold temperatures, ice, and snow.
If necessary, being willing to change, adapt or alter your routines.
If you want to continue walks during the winter months, consider shoes or covers that can be placed on your dog’s paw or even a dog sweater to help them retain body heat.
The two options you have is either change your routines to reduce the total amount of time outdoors when the temperatures are too low or provide the items necessary to help your dog remain warm during your walks or exercise routines.
3.) Be Leery Of Icy Spots Where Your Dog Free Roams
Just because your dog has soft paws and some decent grip on wet surfaces doesn’t mean ice is always safe for your dog to sprint, run around on or even walk on.
Ice can break off or cause your dog to slip into another nearby object causing a cut or other injury.
Treat your dog’s area outdoors like you would a sidewalk for your family to get into the home in the winter.
Make sure you shovel snow and potentially ice slippery spots to make sure to avoid any of the dangers that ice may pose for your dog while winter is in full force.
4.) Don’t Forget Your Dog Is Outside On Potty Break
When the weather is nice and the sun is shining, it’s easy to forget that your dog is outdoors going potty.
Obviously not when it’s too hot and this does requires a safe fenced in yard to make sense.
I do it frequently.
When the weather is nice outside and I know my dogs are enjoying being outdoors, I will forget they are even in the backyard and just go about my day for an hour or so.
In the winter or with snow on the ground, it’s imperative not to forget you let your dog outdoors.
Especially for those of you that don’t utilize doggy doors or have a vocal dog that will bark at the back door reminding you that they need to be let back inside.
Be sure to pay attention and let your dog back inside during the cold months after doing their business in the year.
5.) Reduce Exercise Routines If Needed
We talked about this when we opened this conversation up previously.
Sometimes, we need to accept that all it takes to provide the best care for our dogs during the cold months and during the winter is a few slight changes in our routines.
Even if that isn’t ideal for us.
If you exercise daily with your dog which I highly recommend, be willing to shorten the routine or change the route so you can keep your dog in the colder for a shorter duration of time.
Doing so will still provide your dog with adequate movement and the ability to burn off some energy.
At the same time, you aren’t risking being in the cold for too long keeping both you and your new dog comfortable and safe.
Winter may not change much for you or your dog.
Maybe you only need to change up a few small routines and the distance you walk with your dog each day.
Some of you, may need to make more drastic changes in the winter or shortly before the cold months to ensure your prepared and that your dog is as safe as possible.
Nonetheless, the snuggles and bond you can enjoy with a dog being a part of the family are worth the effort you will put in to make the necessary adjustments.
Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your new dogs and the journey you have ahead of you.