Dogs have thick fur — which doesn’t mean snow, ice, and cold can’t bother them. Road salt, sub-zero temperatures, and large temperature fluctuations between inside and outside can also be uncomfortable for our four-legged friends.
In winter, one problem that city dogs face is salt spreading on streets and footpaths. The salt attacks the dog’s paws and burns quite a bit if there are minor scratches or injuries on the soft pads.
Winterize dog paws
It is best to grease the paws of your faithful friend with a bit of Vaseline, milking fat, or similar preparations so that he can walk carefree through snow and ice outside. Long-haired dogs also usually have tufts of fur between their toes. Keep the coat there trimmed as short as possible so that no snow, ice, or mud with road salt settles on it. Our guide, “Protecting dog paws from ice, sand, and road salt.”
Outside in winter: beware of extreme weather conditions.
A little more caution than usual is called for outside in the snow, ice, intense cold, and darkness. It is best to equip your four-legged friend with a luminous collar or a reflective vest for dogs so that cyclists and motorists can see him well at night and in fog will. If there is black ice, you should watch your four-legged friend and possibly put him on a leash. He, too, can slip and injure himself badly!
The risks of a frozen lake may also be unpredictable for your dog. As long as the ice hasn’t been officially released, your dog shouldn’t step on it any more than you should because there’s a high risk that he’ll fall through. But even if the lake isn’t frozen, outdoor bathing is not recommended for dogs in cold temperatures. Due to the wet fur, they quickly cool down and freeze. This can affect the immune system so that a cold threatens.
Coat for the dog or not?
Dog breeds with very short fur and no undercoat are not naturally protected from the cold outside in winter. They need a warm coat covering their sensitive stomach area or a dog sweater. You can read more about this topic in our guide “Dog clothing in winter: makes sense or not?”.
Caution: Eating snow and games of retrieval can be dangerous
Unfortunately, eating snow isn’t nearly as good for your dog as he might think. No matter how delicious it tastes, taking in the cold snow can make him sick. In addition to the likelihood that he will ingest dirt, road salt, or other harmful substances, the cold also threatens tonsillitis, which is very unpleasant for the dog. He can also spoil his stomach, which threatens gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining).
Lots of exercises and a brisk walking pace are great for your dog when it’s cold because that stimulates the circulation and ensures that he doesn’t freeze so quickly. Unfortunately, he should still do without his beloved game of retrieval with the stick if the weather is too hard. Frozen wood tends to splinter when the dog holds it in its teeth, causing a devastating mouth injury. The risk of slipping when chasing wildly is too significant.
Some dog breeds are made for winter, for example, the Bernese Mountain Dog, St. Bernard, Siberian Husky, or Alaskan Malamute. For example, they can be enthusiastic about the draft dog sport even on cold days and maybe even motivated to pull a sled on snow. The right equipment is essential here, for example, the proper draft dog harness.
If you follow these tips, nothing should stand in the way of unlimited winter fun!