Some dog breeds are better suited for cold weather than others. A Siberian Husky will tolerate and enjoy cold weather much better in most cases than a Chihuahua, but there are steps you can take to make the cold and snow easier for your fair-weather dog to tolerate.
First to consider is your dog’s hair coat and general size. Smaller dogs with shorter hair coats will have a more difficult time than bigger dogs that have thick, warm coats. This blog post is going to focus mainly on dog breeds that are more likely to have difficulty tolerating winter weather, although some of the tips can be helpful for larger breeds with thicker coats.
If the cold is the main issue, getting your pooch accustomed to wearing a winter coat to go outside can be very helpful. It may take some time, training and praise to get your dog to accept clothing, but once they realize that they are more comfortable in the cold, they usually will come to accept and even enjoy having on a winter dog coat.
Smaller breeds can have great difficulty navigating deeper snow when going outside to eliminate. Keeping potty areas and paths shoveled for easy access can make a big difference. This has the added advantage of making poop pickup much easier for you so you can keep the area clean. Make sure the designated area is large enough for your dog to be able to sniff around and go in different places. A larger space will stay cleaner longer than a space that is too small. If your dog has paws with longer hair, keeping paw hair trimmed with a clipper can help to avoid ice balls from forming which can be uncomfortable for dogs to walk on.
Many dogs will have paw pad pain and discomfort if the weather is very cold and/or salt is accumulating on the feet. There are several things that can help with this:
- Paw boots like Protex PawZ dog boots. This is one of several brands available. Do some research to see what brand might work best for your dog. Admittedly these can be difficult to keep in place and you should check frequently to make sure the boots are staying on. Your dog will also need to get acclimated to having something on his/her feet, but once they realize their feet don’t hurt when wearing them most dogs will become used to them.
- Avoid walking on salted roadways. Instead consider local dog friendly parks or trails.
- On your driveway and sidewalks use pet safe ice melter instead of traditional salt (Safe Paw ice melter is one brand to consider).
- Use a paw wax like Musher’s secret prior to walks. It helps to form a protective barrier to the salt and cold. This will usually need to be re-applied prior to each outdoor excursion.
- Clean paws with lukewarm water and a clean towel after being outdoors in harsh conditions. This will help to clean away any salt and wash off accumulated ice and snow.
- Keep walk times shorter when the weather is cold. Instead of doing one long walk, try to take shorter, more frequent walks when possible. If your dog is used to walks and it is simply too cold, try to provide indoor entertainment and exercise by tossing a soft toy to play fetch, hiding treats around the house for a treasure hunt or using treat puzzles or treat balls to provide mental stimulation and keep your pet busy and entertained.
With a little planning and adjustments cold weather can be more easily tolerated and even enjoyed by you and your dog!