This article was originally posted on economical.com.
Humans aren’t the only ones who feel the effects of colder temperatures and dry indoor heating over the winter months. So when you’re applying your extra-strength hand cream and lip balm, remember that your dog needs some special treatment this season, too.
Here are six ways to keep your dog happy and healthy through the winter:
Limit your walks and time outdoors
If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s likely too cold for your dog, too. Try to keep your pup indoors as much as possible when the temperature drops below 0° — and never leave her alone in your vehicle. For extra exercise when it’s too cold to walk outdoors, consider tracking down some large indoor spaces that welcome four-legged visitors (like local malls and big box stores, for example).
Apply a paw balm to protect your pup’s paws from salt
Salt and chemical de-icing products can irritate the skin on your dog’s paws and cause them to dry out or crack. Before heading out on a walk, rub a protective balm on the bottom of your dog’s paws to help shield their skin. When you return indoors, wipe your pup’s paws with a clean, damp towel and reapply the balm to help keep them healthy and hydrated. You can either purchase a paw balm from a veterinary clinic or make your own DIY version using ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil, and olive oil — but remember, your dog may lick her paws, so make sure your vet approves of the ingredients first.
Don’t leave the house without a towel
Depending on the length of your walk, you may need to wipe your dog’s paws periodically to remove salt and other irritants. It’s especially important to wipe your pup’s paws if you notice her licking them, since she may be ingesting chemicals from de-icers or salt, which could make her sick. Even when the snow is melting, salt and harmful chemicals can still be present, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s paws until all potential irritants have been washed away in the spring.
Update your dog’s wardrobe
If your dog seems uncomfortable walking on cold surfaces (or if you just want to keep her paws warm and dry), consider getting her some winter booties. While some dogs may refuse to wear boots, others enjoy their warmth and protection. You could also consider putting your dog in a winter jacket or sweater to help her retain as much of her body heat as possible when she heads outside.
Limit baths and wait until your dog is totally dry before letting her outside
Bathing your dog too often can remove essential oils that help protect her skin and coat from drying out, especially in the winter months. Limit baths as much as possible and, when you do need to give your dog a bath, use a moisturizing pet shampoo and let her fur dry thoroughly before letting her go outside.
Keep an eye on your dog’s skin and coat
Cold, dry weather can cause your pup’s skin and coat to dry out, making her itchy and uncomfortable. If you do notice that your dog’s skin seems irritated, consider asking your vet about natural supplements you can put into your dog’s food to help nourish her coat and keep her skin soft and hydrated.
Protecting your pup
Sometimes your dog may get a little under the weather, even when you’ve tried your hardest to keep her healthy and warm all season long. If you notice your dog shows signs of being unwell after spending time outdoors this winter, contact your vet right away.
Call your local veterinary hospital if you have concerns about frostbite or other conditions related to winter weather. Your veterinary staff will offer the best advice regarding care to keep your cat or dog their happiest and healthiest. Learn what’s covered by Petsecure and get a free quote today.