Unless you live in some sunny, warm southern clime, harsh winter weather is hard on both humans and dogs. You may have to change up your winter dog care routine to protect them from the effects of freezing temperatures, harsh winds, ice, snow, and dry air.
However, with some care and preparation, winter doesn’t have to be bleak. You can easily offer your dog the protection they need to enjoy outdoor time, and keep them warm and occupied indoors.
Winter Dog Care: Paws
Snow, ice, and road salt wreak havoc on a dog’s paws. The cold surface can dry out paw pads, causing them to flake and crack. Road salt, which is sharp and often combined with harsh chemicals, is a real canine hazard. Not only is it an irritant, but it’s also potentially toxic if ingested. The goal of balms or boots is to protect your dog’s paws from conditions like frostbite, as well as healing any damage that does occur.
This cream is made of all-natural wax and the name kind of says it all. When applied to your dog’s pads and between toes, it creates a semi-permeable barrier against ice and snow. Buyers praised Musher’s Secret for its effectiveness against snow, ice, and salt, as well as blistering pavement and hot surfaces in summer. Price: $20
Organic ingredients in this balm soothe cracked, sore pads and help heal cuts and wounds. Made of food-grade ingredients and completely safe if ingested, this product is a perennial hit with owners whose dogs suffer from rough or cracked paw pads. Price: $18
Prevent weather damage altogether by putting your dog in booties. Well-constructed boots protect dogs’ paws and keep them warm in freezing temperatures. The weatherproof Hurtta boots have a rubber sole for good traction. Plus, they don’t impede movement. Price: $24
Substitute a safe, non-toxic ice melt for harsh road salts to clear your walk and steps. This biodegradable product has a time-release formula that melts ice and keeps surface ice-free for up to three days. It’s also proven effective at extremely low temperatures. Price: $20
Winter Dog Care: Nose, Coat, and Skin
Just as humans feel the effects of dry air and cold temperatures, like chapped lips, and flaky, dried-out skin, so do our dogs. Dogs’ noses can become chapped, cracked, and flaky. Regardless of coat type, your dog’s skin can become itchy and dry in winter. This can lead to infection or hot spots. To keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy, shampoo a little less frequently and brush your dog often. Also, consider adding some of these products to your winter dog care routine.
This non-oily conditioner hydrates your dog’s skin and coat, helps fight itchy skin, and detangles fur. It’s useful for all breeds and any type of coat. Customers say that it absorbs easily, moisturizes itchy skin, and leaves coats smooth and soft. Price: $12
This all-natural balm is made with olive oil, beeswax, rosemary extract, and other organic ingredients. It safe for all dogs, including puppies and those with sensitive skin. Because of the natural ingredients, even if your dog licks the moisturizer, the product absorbs and noses stays soft and healthy. Price: $10
Outdoor Winter Dog Gear
Besides thick-coated northern breeds meant for winter weather, many dogs feel the effects of cold like we do. If you’re bundling up for an especially cold outdoor excursion, so should your dog. Some dogs will be fine with a warm sweater, others, while others may need more insulation.
This acrylic sweater is designed to cover your dog’s neck, shoulders, and body. It’s stretchy, soft, and generously cut to fit even deep-chested breeds. Buyers rave about the quality construction, soft material, and stylish look. Price: $16
Don’t let cold weather stop you and your dog from outdoor adventures or training. This waterproof, thermal-insulated jacket keeps dogs warm, while 3M reflectors add a safety feature. Whether your dog is working or playing, the jacket will keep them warm without restricting movement. Price: $98
Keep Your Dog Warm Indoors
If you keep the thermostat set low in winter, your dog may need something to take the chill off. Humans have down quilts and snuggly throws. Why not give your dog a little bit of extra warmth, too?
The aptly named Donut Bed has a raised rim and is well padded, so even arthritic and senior dogs can get comfortable. The plush synthetic fur is ultra-warm while still being breathable. Satisfied buyers praised the bed’s ability to stay soft supportive without being too stiff. Price: $40
This versatile pad can be used without a crate, too, as a floor mat or, as one customer noted, on top of the printer where her dog loves to nap. It captures dogs’ body heat and radiates warmth back, so it’s self-warming without cords or batteries. The notched corners fit snugly in a crate and the bottom is a non-slip fabric. Price: $7 & up
Indoor Winter Fun With Your Dog
Winter dog care isn’t just about combatting the elements. Even though nasty weather may keep you indoors, dogs still need year-round physical and mental exercise. While not all owners have enough room for a game of fetch or hide and seek, you can buy a few interactive toys to stimulate your dog indoors. Winter is also a great time to work on training and new tricks.
Embark on a winter project with the Canine Good Citizen program. The book will guide you through the training curriculum and exercises and, by spring, you’ll both be ready to pass your CCG test. Price: $15
You can make this as challenging as you want by the way you stuff the squirrels into the tree trunk. Dogs love to “hunt” for the squirrels, pull them out of the holes, and even fling them around the room. It’s plush, so won’t stand up to constant vigorous chewing, but it’s surprisingly durable and a real boredom breaker. Price: $8 & up
For dogs that love treats (who doesn’t?), silly noises, and a little craziness when they play, this durable toy is great fun. It rolls, it “giggles,” it dispenses treats, and it will stand up to the most vigorous play. Price: $27
Winter Dog Care Cheat Sheet
- Protect your dog’s paws from outdoor surfaces. Wipe them off, even between toes, when you go back inside.
- Consider your dog’s breed and coat type, and whether they may need a sweater or jacket.
- Brush your dog’s coat frequently to get rid of dead skin. Condition as necessary.
- If your dog’s nose becomes dry or chapped, use a healing balm or cream.
- Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep inside, especially if you keep the house cool.
- Provide mental and physical stimulation and play while indoors.