You winterize your car, your house, and your family in preparation for frigid winter weather. But what about your dog? Even though you can hunker down indoors during the chilliest of days, your furry friend still needs those outdoor potty breaks. Here are a few helpful ways to protect your pup all winter long.
Furry Friends with Fur Coats
Dogs have it made with an automatic fur coat, which can be perfect when temperatures drop. But those fur coats aren’t necessarily created equal. When providing protection, consider your dog’s breed. Siberian Huskies do well in chilly weather; they are made for it. However, short-haired breeds and dogs without much body fat are another story. Like humans, they can get cold quickly and are subject to hypothermia—a condition that happens when the body hits abnormally low temperatures. Even dogs with thick fur coats aren’t immune to hypothermia. If your dog spends more than a few minutes outside, don’t shy away from a canine coat, sweater, and booties. Frostbite can happen to dogs, occurring most commonly on the paws, ears, and tail. Make sure your dog is dry before you take it out for a walk. Wet or damp paws are more vulnerable to frostbite, which can happen in as little as 30 minutes. After a walk on a wet or snowy day, dry your pet’s ears, paws, and tail. Put yourself in your dog’s situation, and be smart about time outside.
Water freezes. It’s an obvious fact, but one that’s easily forgotten when it comes to a dog’s outside water dish. Keep the dish filled with fresh water, and watch for ice.
A frozen body of water is also a hazard. When you’re out for a walk, dogs can’t tell where the land ends and the water begins. Don’t allow your dog off -leash around bodies of water.
Rock salt and deicers used to melt sidewalks and driveways can be toxic to animals. Avoid walking in these areas, and be careful about letting your dog eat snow or lick snow from paws that may be contaminated by these chemicals. Wipe down your pup’s paws after being outside to get rid of any toxins.
Cold Weather’s Effect on Joint Stiffness
Winter can be tough on a dog experiencing stiffness, whether from activity or aging. In addition to doing smart things like managing your dog’s weight, consider adding supplements to help manage pain and support joint health. One of the most effective is curcumin, the active component of turmeric. Studies have found that curcumin can do wonders to help lessen pain. But not all curcumin supplements are well absorbed by your dog’s body. However, a supplement that blends highly absorbable curcumin with turmeric essential oil that contains ar-turmerone can effectively reduce stiffness and support cartilage and joints.
Dogs will also benefit from another herbal anti-inflammatory—boswellia. A tree resin also known as frankincense, boswellia is another supplemental tool to keep your animal strong and flexible. A Swiss research project studied 24 dogs with chronic joint and spinal diseases. The dogs were given a standardized boswellia extract in their food for six weeks. After just two weeks, 71 percent of the dogs showed improvement. By six weeks, the researchers noted a significant reduction in tell-tale signs like intermittent lameness and stiff gait. Look for a product that combines curcumin and boswellia for ultimate support.