Winter Fun With Your Dog!

Cold weather shouldn’t necessarily discourage you from being outside with your dog. Walks, games and sports in the winter – even in the snow – are great exercise for you and your pet. Just plan ahead and prepare for the elements.

More Food? Maybe.

If

you play with or exercise your dog outside in the winter, be sure to keep an eye on his or her weight. You may need to increase the amount of food he or she is getting for body fat and nutrition because they will be burning calories just staying warm in colder temperatures.

If the two of you generally spend your time in front of a fireplace, getting out for an occasional walk can only be a good thing.

How much more food? It depends. More calories are needed for:

  • Colder temperatures; say 20-degree weather vs. 40-degrees.
  • More physical exertion, bounding through belly-high snow vs. walking on clear pavement.

You will need to observe and decide if and what changes to make in his diet. Add high-quality dog food as opposed to human food to bulk up his diet. Worried your dog, may be losing too much? Check out Is Your Dog Overweight.

More Water

Did

you know your dog needs more water in the winter if they are outside a lot? As a dog exhales air, she is also expelling water. But because the air is colder and drier, your dog is losing more water to the air than she gets back. And eating snow or licking ice is not a big help. This activity actually makes your dog’s body work harder to heat snow or ice into water. The best bet is just to make sure she has clean, room temp water available. Besides, do you really know what’s in that snow?

A heated water bowl is a great way to provide
constant access to drinking water, even in the winter!

Watch The Toes!

Snow

and salt can build up between a dog’s toes. How would that feel to you? Well, it is uncomfortable to your dog too, and it can cause splits and abrasions if left unchecked. And him licking so much salt or other snow melting chemicals is just very bad.

  • Make sure you carefully wipe his feet with a towel every time you come in from outside.
  • Rub a bit of baby oil and sprinkle some baby powder on the pads before going outside.
  • Get booties or dog shoes for your dog’s feet, especially smaller dog breeds, since they typically don’t grow hair between the pads on their feet.

Also, remember ice and snow can create slippery conditions. Dogs can tear ligaments and sprain themselves just like we can. If you think this might be an issue where you walk, do go for nylon or leather boots for your dog to prevent problems.

Final Thoughts Bundle Up

In

fact, a dog sweater or coat is a good idea for outings for small dogs, breeds with thin coats, dogs with medical conditions, or very old or very young dogs. Smaller dogs are more susceptible to colder temperatures due to a lack of body mass. And puppies cannot yet regulate their body temperature.

Whether or not you want to get out there, your dog needs some activity in the winter too. Bundle up and get him or her out there, at least, a few days each week, and you will see the difference in yourself too.