Winter is coming, and now is as good a time as any to get yourself, your home and your pets prepared for the colder months. While we don’t get snow in South Africa, there are certain parts that do experience more extreme changes in temperature. The good news is that there are a number of easy steps we can take to protect our furbabies during winter.
We’ve compiled some top tips to get you ready for the winter.
Does my dog need extra care this winter?
The short answer is yes. Your dogs are more likely to know what it is they need when they need it, including having the ability to regulate their own body temperature. However, they are still susceptible to feeling the cold, and even getting frostbite in extreme conditions.
One thing that almost every breed of dog has in common is an undercoat, which keeps them warmer during the winter months, and cooler during the summer. While there are certain breeds that are naturally built for snow and extreme cold (like the Siberian Husky, Newfoundland and Alsatian), there are some (more specifically, short hair breeds) that need all the help they can get staying warm. Breeds like Yorkies don’t have that undercoat, and their fur is more akin to human hair than dog fur.
The easiest way to figure out if your pooch has a single coat is to gently make a part in his fur and take a look. If you see long, harsh hairs combined with soft, downy fur, you know you have a double-coated dog. If there are only hairs that look even with no soft undercoat, you own a single-coated dog.
Another thing to consider is your dog’s size and age. Smaller sized dogs, as well as puppies and older dogs need extra care this winter so be prepared. Here’s what you can do to beat the winter chill:
Get the dog bed ready
It may be time to invest in a proper dog bed if you haven’t yet. You’ll want something that is comfy and provides a thick layer of protection between the dog and the floor. If you are currently crate training your pup, or you have a kennel for them, make sure that it is well insulated. Line your dog’s bed with an extra blanket that is durable and warm. Opt for a fleece blanket, which is available at any pet store, but there also more affordable dog blanket options available on Takealot or at Builders.
Get a dog jacket
There is nothing cuter than seeing your fur baby rocking that adorable jacket. If you have a short haired or single coated dog, a jacket is a necessity. Be sure to get them a fleecy jacket that fits just right, and isn’t too constrictive to movement. Plus, make sure not to cover your dog’s head. If you find that you have to cover their heads because it’s too cold, rather stay indoors, and cuddle up instead.
If your pup is an outdoor dog, bring them in before winter really settles in. The cruellest thing you can do is leave your furbaby out in the cold, especially if you live in areas where it rains mostly in winter.
When it comes time to go for walks, keep it short, while also ensuring that your dog gets in all of the necessary exercise. If it becomes too cold to go out (like early mornings or evenings) adjust the time that you do go for walks, or create an exercise environment for your pooch that can be done indoors.
Lots of cuddles
Winter is probably the best excuse to give your dog cuddles, because you will be keeping each other warm. Plus, who doesn’t love extra dog cuddles?
During winter, your pooch uses up more energy to try and stay warm. Add a little bit more food to their bowl at feeding time but be careful not to overfeed them. If you see your dog is gaining extra weight quickly, adjust the food you give them.
To groom or not to groom?
Don’t neglect your dog’s grooming needs just because it’s winter. Keep their coats clean, and more importantly dry. If he needs to have a bath, do so at the warmest possible time of day. Plus, make sure your pooch is fully dry before letting them go about their daily routines to prevent them from getting a cold (yes, dogs can get a cold too!)
Be sure to also check their paws, tail and ears for any irritations, inflammation or cracking of the skin as that can be very painful, and could potentially lead to frostbite in the worst case scenario.
Let the sunshine in
Yes, your dog needs some Vitamin D too, so some time spent in the sunshine is exactly what he needs. You need it too, so go on and enjoy the sun as much as you can!
Use your common sense
While we have provided you with some helpful tips, common sense also plays a major part here. Without stating the obvious, be sure to also keep your dogs safe from fire and electrical hazards, and remember to use tick and flea collars – those parasites are present all year round!
We hope that these tips will help you get through the next few months with some ease! Got any other winter tips and tricks that you think we’ve missed? Let us know by leaving us a comment!