Not everyone has the luxury of shuffling half-asleep to the bathroom in a warm house when nature calls in the middle of winter; your pup has to brave the elements when it’s time to take care of business! Whether you’re headed out for a quick relief walk or adventuring along a snowy trail, it’s important to understand how elements such as snow, ice and salt affect your pup as well as the steps you can take to keep them protected. The most sensitive areas we make sure to bundle up when heading out (ears, feet, etc) are just as if not more susceptible to frostbite and discomfort on our pups. As winter in New England can be as unpredictable as it is unrelenting, let’s go over some tips and tactics both Elliot’s House and our clients swear by!
Your pup’s paws are particularly vulnerable in the winter, as they come in contact with both ice and snow and harmful road salts and chemicals used to melt it. There are several lines of defense for keeping paws protected and healthy in the harsh winter months, one of the first being regular trimming of any extra fur that grows between your dog’s paw pads. This fur can cause an uncomfortable buildup of snow and ice balls to stick during walks, increasing the risk of frostbite and pad damage. If your dog will cooperate, there are several winter-proof booties available to cover and guard your pup’s paws completely. While a warm and protective bootie is the most fail safe option, a healthy majority of dogs will not tolerate wearing them. If this is the case, using a wax-based cream such as Musher’s Secret is a popular alternative that many of our clients swear by. This wax is applied in between and on your dog’s paw pads in order to form a breathable shield from ice and salt, as well as preventing dryness and cracking with all-natural moisturizers. Aside from these options, it is always a good idea to wipe your pup’s paws with a warm cloth after winter walks to remove any excess salt or chemicals they encounter while adventuring!
To Bundle or Not to Bundle: Pup Coats!
Whether or not your dog may need a coat in the winter depends on several factors, the most obvious being breed and the length/thickness of their coat. While a Husky or St. Bernard is more than capable of heading out sans-winter wardrobe, shorter hair dogs such as Pit bulls and Greyhounds benefit from the extra warmth and insulation. Smaller pups and senior dogs have a more difficult time regulating body temperature, so a thick coat is always a good idea when temperatures start to drop. Pup coats are available in almost every option available to us humans, so it’s important to pay attention to quality and function over trendy designs (though they’re not mutually exclusive)! The Canine Styles Goose Down Puffer jacket is a high end option for the biting cold that is both water resistant and snow-repellent. If you’re in the market for a slightly more cost effective and synthetic option, the Weatherbeeta Deluxe Dog Parka is a full-wrap coat that is also reflective for added safety during night walks.If you’re taking your pup on an all-day sledding excursion, the Casual Canine 2-in-1 Snowsuit includes a removable hood and leg coverage for complete protection from the elements.
There are an infinite amount of winter accessories to keep your pup warm and safe this coming winter, so as always do your research and take your time deciding what works best for your pup. Pay special attention to your dog’s energy level and behavior in colder temperatures, as they may tire out more easily with the added exertion needed to run and play in the snow and ice. Most importantly, gear up, get out and have a blast with your pup this winter!
Wishing you a happy and healthy Holiday season,