Cold Weather Canine Care Tips

© 2006 The American Kennel Club, Inc.

A dog’s need for  food, shelter and loving care increases during the cold winter months. Keep  your dog safe and warm by following these guidelines.

  • Dogs can get frostbite or hypothermia when temperatures drop. Don’t leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Provide a covered shelter, such as a doghouse or kennel, for the times the dog is out of doors.
  • When your dog is inside, keep him warm, dry and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted floors may become  very cold, so put down blankets or pads for him to lie on.
  • Keep your dog a safe distance from supplemental  heat sources such as portable heaters and fireplaces, which can cause severe  burns. Place screens around fireplaces.

  • Don’t leave your dog alone in a car on cold days.
  • Feed your dog additional calories, particularly if it spends a lot of time outdoors or if it is a working dog. The extra calories are necessary because it takes more energy in the winter to regulate body temperature.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water at all times. Dogs are just as likely to get dehydrated in winter as in summer. Snow is not a good substitute for water.
  • Groom your dog regularly. Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. If you have a short-haired dog, consider a sweater or coat. If your dog is long-haired,  clip the hair around its paws to ease snow removal.
  • Dry your dog with a towel or blow-dryer if it gets wet from rain or snow. Clean snow and ice from its  paws to prevent cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may help  soften and soothe paw pads.
  • Be extra careful when walking or playing with your dog near frozen lakes, rivers or ponds. Your dog could slip or jump in and be seriously injured.
  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, can irritate paw pads. Rinse and dry your dog’s feet after a  walk.
  • Watch out for spilled antifreeze  on driveways. Antifreeze smells and tastes good to dogs, but it can be lethal.
  • Dogs, like humans, seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to the veterinarian if you notice any signs of illness.