10 tips for keeping your dog safe and warm this winter

Posted by Argos, 15 May 2020, last updated 1 March 2022.

Let’s be honest, winter takes its toll on us all. The cold weather, short gloomy days, and long nights can add up. Similar to how your routine changes with the weather, your dog’s day-to-day needs change too.

If you’ve ever been unsure about ways to keep your dog warm in the winter, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top ten tips to keep your dog safe, happy, and healthy when it gets cold. 

Golden Labrador dog stood in deep snow

1. Give them a warm bed to sleep in

Your sweet cuddly dog craves warmth and as they’ll be spending more time indoors, it’s important to give them a nice warm bed to call their own. Avoid putting their bed in drafty areas and if you can, raise it off the ground away from cold tiles and uncarpeted floors when possible.

You should add warm blankets and a pillow to create a snug environment in their favourite spot. If your pooch has an outside home, pack it with insulation: anything from hay, old sacks, wool blankets, or sweaters you were planning to throw away will help keep the warmth in.

We all know pets love to set up camp near heat sources, so if your radiators are unprotected, we highly recommend doggy-proofing them with a radiator cover to avoid any injuries!

2. Keep an eye on their diet

Just like us, your dog will probably be more lethargic during the winter months. Plus, they’ll be spending less time outdoors being active, so it’s important to feed them properly. It is important to make sure your pet doesn’t gain any winter weight because being obese is a serious impediment to your pet’s welfare. It can lead to heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as debilitating, life-limiting conditions including arthritis.

Check with your vet to make sure you’re not over-feeding your pup and that they’re getting the nutrients they need.

3. Stay active indoors

Depending on the breed, your dogs and cold weather won’t always get along. Some pups are reluctant to go outside during winter but your furry friend still needs to stay active. Get your dog moving indoors by having lots of toys they can play with.

You should also keep your dog’s brain stimulated. Treat balls or puzzles filled with little surprises will keep your pup occupied and stimulated for ages. If you want to be involved in playtime, you can create a scent-based treasure hunt for your pooch to find.

4. Go for shorter more frequent walks

Your pooch still needs to be active and go outdoors despite the weather. However, they should be spending less time outdoors than usual. Having dogs outside in winter does come with the added risk of hypothermia or frostbite.

Frostbite is most common on ears, paws, nose, or tail first. It’s not always immediately obvious so you should watch out for pale or prey skin that can turn hard or cold. This can feel painful for your pet in those areas as they reheat and should be taken to the vet for treatment. 

Since hypothermia progresses, dogs may show signs of depression, lethargy and weakness. Their muscles will stiffen and their heart and breathing rates will slow down. If it’s severe it can be life-threatening, so take them to a vet immediately if you see symptoms.

Also, whining, shivering, and appearing anxious or looking for a place to burrow can all be signs that your dog is too cold.

We suggest shorter but more frequent walks. If you’re unsure how long your dog should be outside, remember that many dogs have a similar tolerance to the cold as humans. So, once you’re ready to come inside, they’ll probably feel the same.

Close-up photograph of a small golden dog wearing a jumper stood in the snow with snow on their face

5. Wrap up on walks

Like humans, dogs get cold in the winter, so if your dog was not blessed with thick fur to keep them warm you should invest in warm dog coats. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and will protect their belly.

The same rule applies, if you stand outside and think you need a coat, it’s probably too cold for your pup too.

6. Stay visible at night

While it is recommended that you take your dog outside while there is still daylight, that’s not always possible. If you are going out in the dark, make sure both you and your pooch are visible to others, such as cars, to keep safe. You can do so by attaching a light or piece of reflective material to your pooch’s collar, lead, or coat.

7. Stay away from lakes and rivers

Pets can be unpredictable and what looks like solid land to your pooch could crack easily under their weight. Stay safe and avoid hypothermia by walking on paths with minimal risk.

8. Don’t forget to clean their paws

While we may not see a lot of snow that could get stuck between the toes of their paws, we do see a lot of de-icing salt. This can be incredibly harmful as the salt is toxic to your pup if ingested as well as being painful if lodged in their paws.

When you come in from your walks, simply wash their paws with warm water and dry them to keep your pup safe and happy.

9. Keep them warm, dry, and moisturised  

As well as keeping their paws safe from the toxins in de-icing salt, it’s important to keep their fur dry once you’re back indoors to avoid aggravated skin.

If you notice their skin or paws becoming dry and flaky, you can try adding a skin and coat supplement to their food. Also, coconut oil is a great natural moisturiser that will keep their coat healthy. It can also be applied to their paws, ears, tail, or nose if you find them to be dry or cracking.

10. Don’t leave them in the car alone

It’s not just during summer when it’s hot that dogs shouldn’t be left in cars. Temperatures can drop very quickly and unexpectedly during the winter months. Avoid a trip to the vet because of hypothermia by never leaving them unattended in your car.

Take care of your dog’s safety throughout winter and all year round! It’s important to protect your dog with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our dog insurance policies today.

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