Winterize Your Dog!

Now that cold weather is here, it’s time to think about preparing your dog for the snow, mud, and cold winds ahead. Afterall, you probably get your home and car ready for winter. Doesn’t your dog deserve the same care?

Preparing for cold and bad weather

One of the first things you’ll notice as winter approaches is that your dog may be shedding a lot more. This is especially true with double-coated breeds. This might seem counter-intuitive. Don’t dogs need more hair in the winter? Right, but before your dog can grow a thick new winter coat, he has to shed out his old hair. You can help the process by brushing your dog more in the fall and winter months. This will help remove the dead hair and help the new coat grow in healthy and lovely. It also stimulates the skin and keeps it healthy. Plus, brushing your dog when he’s shedding can prevent all that dead hair from flying all over your house. So, definitely add more brushing to your list of things to help winterize your dog.

The heat is on

Once the weather is colder and you start using the heat in your house, it can really take the moisture out of the air. Many of us feel this when we have dry skin in the winter. Dogs have the same problem. Lots of dogs have dry, itchy skin in the winter because of the dry air in houses. You can add a humidifier to your home if you want to put more moisture back in the air. This can help both you and your dog. You can also add vitamin E or fish oil gel tablets to your dog’s meals. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are very beneficial for your dog’s skin and coat. Many dog foods also feature added omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for improved skin and coat condition. Lots of people see their dogs itching and scratching in the winter and assume that their dogs have allergies when the problem is really dry heat and dry skin. Try the vitamin E and/or the fish oil and your dog should have soft, supple skin throughout the winter months.

Coats

These days, most dogs don’t live outside 24/7 so cold weather and the elements don’t have as much effect on a dog’s coat as they did at one time. Most dogs have a good outer coat to protect them from cold weather and some dogs also have an insulating undercoat for more warmth. If you have a double-coated dog, he should remain warm when he’s outside playing or walking as long as his undercoat remains dry. If you have a dog with a single coat (that is, a dog that doesn’t have an undercoat), your dog might need a coat or sweater when he goes out in cold temps.

If you have cut your dog’s coat very short or shaved him during the summer months, it’s a good idea to let it grow out more during the winter. This will help keep him warmer when he’s outside. If you have a breed with naturally short, smooth hair, you may also want to consider a coat or sweater for your dog. This is particularly true with small Toy dogs. They feel the cold more than big dogs. (Some of the sled dog breeds prefer cold weather and don’t like being in a warm house all the time.)

Paws

Winter also means that your dog’s paws will likely be exposed to ice and snow. One way to protect his paws is by using a product to help toughen and protect them so they won’t become chapped or raw when he is outside in cold weather. You can find these products at pet stores and online. If your dog’s paws do become cut or chapped, you can also buy soothing paw ointments. Or, you can purchase winter boots for your dog to keep his paws protected from ice and snow. This is often a good choice, especially if you live in an area where sidewalks and roads are covered with salt and de-icing chemicals. These chemicals can be harmful to dogs yet it’s easy for dogs to lick their paws and ingest the chemicals after walking on them.

To bathe or not to bathe

As for bathing your dog during winter months, most dogs don’t get as dirty in the winter because they aren’t outdoors as much as they are during the summer months. You will probably be able to use the same shampoo as usual for your dog but you may need to adjust the conditioner you use depending on whether your dog’s skin is dry and itchy from the heat in your home and other factors. If you don’t normally use a conditioner for your dog, you might need to use one in the winter because of the added stress of the weather on his coat.

If you follow these suggestions your dog’s skin and coat should look great all winter.

Why Your Dog Needs A Waterproof Coat This Spring

For many, especially those new to dog ownership, dog coats might seem like a bit of a silly affectation, a fashion accessory bought only for pampered pooches whose ‘mummy and daddy’ have forgotten they have a dog and not a baby and who have more money than sense. However, the surprising truth of it is that there are several very sensible explanations why even the most practical, no-nonsense pet owners choose to wrap their dogs up in the snug warmth of a waterproof dog coat. It’s not really a matter of feeling cold yourself so assuming your dog must be too; there are in fact many practical advantages to dressing your pet in a waterproof canine coat before you take him or her outside in this unpredictable spring weather. This article considers a few of the main benefits.


Keep the House Thoroughly Clean and Dried out
Waterproof canine coats have one primary purpose – to keep your dog’s own natural coat dry. Your pet may not really mind getting wet whenever you take him for a romp out on a showery spring day, but once he’s back inside he’ll be getting all that muddy dampness all over your home. Chances tend to be good that he’ll give that soaking wet coat a lovely great big shake in the center of your family room, splattering all over your clean sofas or rolling around on your carpet. The alternative though is of course keeping him outside in the garage or boot room until his coat is actually dry.

The easiest method to avoid the actual wet tremble, however – and also the accompanying inimitable doggy smell which settles in to your upholstery – would be to cover their fur with a nice, water-resistant cover. It might appear like an extremely selfish reason for making your pet to withstand a coat, but think about the alternative – shutting the poor pup out in the garage till he dries off naturally? In any case, a waterproof dog coat actually benefits the dog himself even more than it helps you out.
Health Advantages of Waterproof Canine Coats
Dogs are prone to catching a chill, and can become very uncomfortable, right through to their bones, if they are left cold and damp for long periods. While nobody “catches cold” from being out in the actual rain, getting wet, cold and soggy can really mess up your dog’s routine, and make them feel really fed-up. A dog’s hair takes a lot longer to dried out than the skin, so if he gets soaked through, he’ll end up being cold, wet as well as miserable for a long time.
Older dogs who suffer from achy joints and joint disease may benefit especially from a good, warm, water-resistant coat in the windy and often incredibly wet spring weather. A waterproof coat can help keep the actual damp from settling within and making him much more uncomfortable. In the event that your dog is a hairless breed, or if you keep him or her carefully clipped, opt for a weatherproof, warm coat since their natural defences from the cold as well as wet are somewhat impaired through the clipping. Small dogs will also be excellent candidates to be kept warm and dry inside a dog coat because their own small bodies often get chilled faster than the bodies of bigger dogs.

Additional Benefits Of Dog Coats
Some kinds of coats provide particular advantages under particular conditions. Should you walk your pet at evening, for instance, a reflective water-resistant dog coat might help keep him or her – and also you – safer by increasing his visibility to passing cars and traffic. A coat may also reduce the possibility of infestation by unwanted guests, such as fleas or ticks, which are often picked up while out walking.
Whether you’re motivated by protecting your sofa, keeping your dog safe and warm, or simply because you think your fluffy best friend will look adorable in a little coat (or all of the above!), you can be sure to find a waterproof dog coat to fit your needs. These things are becoming increasingly popular and you’ll find them in all shapes, sizes and colours to buy online or in specialist shops. Shop around and you’ll soon find the warmest (or cutest) coat for your canine companion.

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Poodle(cropped)snow-coat.jpg

Kate Parker is a journalist and online author. She has written this piece on behalf of 4Pets Store.