Just as people can find it unpleasant to be outside without protection from the cold when the weather cools down, the same is true for dogs, especially a dog that spends much of its time indoors. The climate-controlled environment in your house can interfere with the growth of your dog’s winter coat. Some dogs and dog breeds cannot grow coats heavy enough to protect them from cold weather, especially when walking in Virginia.
Factors To Consider To Keep Your Dog Comfortable In The Cooler Weather
Despite the colder weather, your dog needs at least one or two walks each day for exercise and mental stimulation. You should not assume that your dog can easily handle the cold, especially if the weather changed from hot to cold suddenly. One way to know if your dog is warm enough is to touch your dog’s body. If it is not toasty warm to the touch, you should consider outfitting it with a sweater or jacket.
- Below are some other ways you can keep your dog warm and protect it from harmful exposure to cold weather. Outfit your dog with properly fitting sweaters, coats, and wet weather gear.
- In wet, icy, or snowy weather, use boots designed for your dog’s paws. If your dog won’t tolerate wearing boots, smear its paws before your walk with petroleum jelly or similar, non-toxic water-repellent ointment.
- Keep the walk short and go during warmer times of day (usually daylight hours).
- Dry your dog’s paws and legs with a towel when you return indoors.
- Wipe off any ice balls, salt, or other ice-melting chemicals.
- Avoid icy or slippery surfaces when possible.
- Minimize the amount of time your dog spends outside.
- Protect your dog from getting wet.
- Let your dog’s coat grow – avoid short clips.
- Clip the hair that grows around and between your dog’s paw pads.
- Watch your dog for signs it is too cold: shivering, limping, refusing to continue walking. In such cases, take your dog inside.
Every dog can benefit from a little help staying warm. If you are not sure what to do, you should err on the side of doing more rather than not enough. What works best for your dog depends on a number of factors, listed below.
Size and Weight
Your dog’s size and weight are important considerations. Smaller, lightweight dogs generally cannot handle the cold as well as larger dogs. The smaller your dog, the less tolerant it will be of the cold. Do what you can to minimize your small dog’s exposure to cold weather.
One very important consideration is your dog’s coat. Short-haired dogs obviously have less tolerance to cold weather. Dog breeds like greyhounds need help staying warm in cold weather. Even large dogs with short hair, such as Dobermans, need protection to stay warm.
If your dog has long hair, you still need to think about how thick the dog’s coat is. Some dogs, like a golden retriever or a Siberian husky, have a heavy, double-layered coat. Those dogs tolerate cold weather fairly well, but even they need shelter and protection for their paws. If their paws become wet, these dogs can have a hard time keeping warm until they dry.
Age and Health
Older dogs, very young dogs, and dogs in poor health need protection from the cold. They cannot regulate their body temperatures as well as healthy adult dogs. Limit their exposure to the cold temperatures as much as possible.
Additionally, dogs with arthritis can suffer from more pain in cold weather and are prone to injuring themselves, much like arthritic humans. Keep their walks shorter and avoid wet or slippery surface conditions.
Damp or Wet Weather in the Fall
Even a dog that is bred for cold weather can get in trouble if it gets wet and cannot dry off. In wet weather, you can help your dog by dressing it in waterproof clothing for its walk and keep the walk short. Once you are back inside, dry your dog off, paying close attention to drying off its paws and legs.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, your dog’s resistance to cold weather may not be as strong as you might think. When fall temperatures start to dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to think about the effect of the cold weather on your dog and take steps to help keep it warm. Once temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit, smaller, older, younger, or unhealthy dogs can really suffer. Below 20 degrees, you will want to keep your dog indoors as much as possible. Believe it or not, your dog can get frostbite and hypothermia in those conditions.
Consider Seeking Professional Dog Walking Services From Paw Pals
The fact that temperatures are falling does not negate your dog’s need for a walk every day. Your dog needs to go outside to do its business and get some exercise. If you need help making sure your dog gets a walk even in cold fall weather, consult with the dog-walking professionals at Paw Pals. They know how to give your dog the time outside that it needs while staying safe and warm. Contact them for more information about their fall dog-walking services.