Since dogs have fur, it's easy for some owners to think that they will be warm and comfortable during winter weather. However, dogs can get illnesses during this time of year. And, snowy and windy days aren't always great unless your dog has the right gear. Here are some tips to keep your dog healthy and safe during the winter.
Watch out for Winter Viruses
While it's rare, humans can actually pass flu strains on to their pets. But dogs, for the most part, get animal-specific viruses. These animal-specific viruses cause symptoms that are very similar to human colds, like watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. If you aren't sure if your dog has a cold or something worse, it's best to take him or her to a veterinarian. Talk to your vet about canine influenza vaccinations. If your vet believes your dog is at risk for repeat infections, they're worth looking into.
It's also vital that you stop taking your dog on walks if they have flu-like symptoms. While your dog may get stir crazy indoors, it's best to let him or her rest and avoid cold weather. Like humans, dogs can breathe better with steam vaporizers. If you have one, set it in the room where your dog sleeps to help them clear up their symptoms.
Keep Them Warm and Their Paws Protected
Even if your dog isn't sick, you still need to protect them when you go for a walk. While Samoyeds and Huskies may thrive in frigid temperatures, other dogs need a coat. Coats are vital for toy breeds and dogs under 20 lb since smaller pups cannot maintain body temperatures as easily.
Along with coats, be sure to get some booties for their paws. Since dogs only sweat on areas that aren't covered by fur, like their paws, this perspiration can actually cause little snowballs to stick to their feet and make them uncomfortable when walking. Not only can tiny snowballs aggravate your dog, but road salts used for thawing ice can too. These salts have chemicals that can dry out and chafe the foot pads. In short, having your dog wear booties is a good way to protect them. If you don't have booties for your dog, make sure you wipe their paws thoroughly when you get home.
Keep Walks Short on Windy Days
While your dog may love the wind — like when they stick their head out the car window — it's not great for their ears. Wintry days that are windy can cause your dog's pinnae, or earflaps, to become swollen and tender.
Some breeds with long, droopy ears — like Cavalier King Charles spaniels, are very prone to otitis externa, or ear canal inflammation. If the wind blows their earflaps out, then their inner ears can be exposed to rain, sleet, and snow. If your dog happens to get their ears soaked, be sure to thoroughly dry them once you get home.
If you follow these tips, your dog should say healthy and safe during the winter months.