Our pets have evolved to withstand the elements. Their long, thick fur keeps them warm, and their paws and nails help give them grip. Even with all these built-in, winter-ready features, though, they can still get a little cold when they spend time outside in frigid temperatures — especially if they’re not used to that type of climate.

As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure your pets are cozy and safe all winter long, whether they reside inside or outside of your home. The following are four of the best ways to help your pooch beat the winter chill in the most comfortable, healthy ways possible.

  1. Reconsider their Shelter

Outdoor pets might have a hard time maintaining their bodily warmth once winter temperatures roll in. This is especially true of older and/or smaller dogs, who simply aren’t built to withstand the coldest days of the season.

Even if your dogs regularly live outside, winter might be time to allow them to sleep inside, at the very least. If you’re opposed to that, you can winterize your pet’s outdoor shelter to the best of your ability. Depending on the severity of the temperatures, you can add insulation to the doghouse, buy a small heater or simply resituate it so it gets less of a draft. And, of course, if you can’t figure out a way to heat your dog’s home, then consider putting a bed inside of your home for safe, warm snoozing.

  1. Invest in a Doggy Jacket (or Let Their Hair Grow)

You don’t have to buy your pet an entire winter wardrobe, but a dog jacket could be the difference between cold and comfortable walks this winter. Again, older dogs have trouble regulating their own body temperatures; the same goes for puppies whose bodies are still growing. These two ages especially need an extra layer of warmth; smaller dogs and those with thin hair may also need a jacket or sweater to survive the season.

Longer haired dogs have a built-in jacket, but only if you don’t groom their hair too short. Once hair begins to grow long, be sure you’re regularly brushing and de-tangling it, too: knotted hair won’t be as effective as a barrier against the cold.

  1. Feed Your Pet More Heartily

Your dog uses quite a bit of energy to stay warm in cold weather, which means he or she will need more food in colder temperatures. With more calories to burn, your pooch will be able to regulate body heat with ease.

This is especially true for senior dogs. In fact, one of the best ways to help an older dog stay comfortable in general is to update his or her diet. The key element in an older dog’s diet is easily digestible protein, which helps your four-legged friend maintain muscle instead of gaining fat. This keeps your dog healthy and better able to stave off winter chills.

  1. Slip on Pup Shoes — or Minimize Time on Ice and Snow

Snow and ice can cause irritation and cracking in your pet’s paws, which is uncomfortable all on its own. But if your dog takes a walk through a salt-covered road, that can also hurt and irritates their feet. You can prevent pain by picking up a pair of snowshoes for all four of your dog’s feet. If you’re unprepared for a snowstorm and have to walk your dog barefoot, then be sure to thoroughly wash his or her feet afterward and minimize the time spent standing on icy surfaces.

Your dog is part of the family, and the above tips will allow you to treat him or her as such. A warm cozy bed, a thick jacket, a hearty diet and a pair of snowshoes are all it takes to ensure your pooch is ready for winter. All you have left to do is cuddle up on the coldest of nights and wait for spring, when everyone can play outside easily and safely one again.

 

Bio:

Emily is an avid dog lover and conservation writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. To read more of her work, check out her blog Conservation Folks and go follow her on Twitter!

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