Winter Brings Special Needs
Some dogs love the cold and snow whether they are mostly inside or outside dogs. It isn’t necessary to be a sled dog to enjoy a little frolic in the winter wonderland. There are some downsides to the cold weather, though, that you need to watch out for. Following are a couple of what we consider to be the most important cold weather tips to keep your dogs healthy and performing at a high level.
Watch the Calories
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, you’ll want to make sure you feed plenty of calories during the winter months. This will help provide the necessary energy to maintain body heat and ensure that they maintain the skin, coat and fat condition that will protect them against the elements. If your dog is more often indoors there’s less of a concern here but more attention should be given if he’s going to be outside for any extended time. Your family or hunting companion still needs to get outside for exercise so there’s a possibility he’ll be burning more calories than normal to keep warm. You can feed more of the formula you’re on or, if your dog is consistently more active, you can transition to a formula with higher protein, fat and calories.
Protect The Paws
Unless you’re in a very mild climate area, your dog’s paws are going through a lot more snow, slush, salt and water in the winter. With the chemicals, wet and cold, the chance of a foot injury, even if it’s minor, is about 100% each year. If you apply some petroleum jelly or udder balm periodically to help keep the pads soft and free of cracks you can help avoid anything major. If your dog’s pads do develop cracks you should take special steps to get them healed quickly. Cracked pads can be very painful and can linger for quite a while if not cared for. Finally, keep in mind that ice melting compounds can cause significant drying, cracking and sensitivity to a dog’s feet. Take care to avoid heavily treated areas whenever possible and wash your dog’s feet periodically to remove any harmful chemicals.