Cold-weather breeds like huskies and St. Bernards might snicker behind their paws, but pups without thick fur really do need protection from the cold if spending more than a short time in below-freezing temperatures. Observe carefully to determine your dog’s tolerance to the elements and prepare accordingly to avoid problems ranging from cuts to poisoning and even frostbite.
Photo: Ruff Wear Bark 'n' Boots Polar Trex, used with permission.
- Preventative paw care includes clipping nails short and trimming hair between the pads to prevent ice buildup. A product like Tuf-Foot, Musher’s Secret, BowWow Butter Balm or even plain old Vaseline will help build resistance to abrasions and protect against ice, slush and grit. Booties, while expensive, serve the dual purpose of preventing ice buildup and providing traction when the going gets slick.
- Always wash or wipe your dog’s feet after a winter outing. She’ll otherwise try licking them clean, a natural behavior that could cause her to ingest toxic anti-freeze or chemical de-icers used on roads and parking lots.
- Don’t sniff at the notion of buying your dog a waterproof coat or vest. It will not only keep him warm, but help prevent ice buildup on chest and belly.
- It’s easy to become dehydrated during winter exercise, and easy for your dog to become dehydrated, too. Carry water for the two of you, and offer it to Rover frequently.
- Give your dog some extra calories after a winter play session. He’ll need them—as will you!