As I’m writing this, the first snow of the year is falling and I’m watching my dogs nap after their hike earlier this morning. The snow makes them giddy. They are like little children running, playing, and jumping in it. Some dogs are built for snow, but others aren’t as much. We, their caregivers, may need to intervene to make sure our canine friends are safe and protected in the winter time.
Big dogs with long thick fur are, of course, going to feel the most at home in winter conditions. Breeds like Huskies, Malamutes, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are a few that thrive in cold weather. Their thick coats provide warmth and protection in the winter time, and if you have one of these breeds, it may seem like they could stay out in the cold all day.
Breeds with thin skin and short coats like Boxers, Greyhounds, or Bulldogs might think they are snow dogs, too, but being in the cold very long could put them in danger of hypothermia, and it’s important to make sure they don’t overdo it. They should have a good winter jacket to wear. Watch for shivering, wobbliness, and pale or blue mucus membranes, and if you see these signs, get your dog out of the cold immediately and into a warm blanket and possibly to the vet if they don’t warm up soon.
Other things to watch out for in the winter include ice melts and rock salts. These are great for melting ice, but terrible for your dog’s feet. You may notice your dog walking strangely on it or avoiding it altogether because it can burn their feet and cause damage to their paws. Be sure to leave them pathways that are not covered in salt, so they can safely walk where they need to go.
Antifreeze is another harmful substance to dog paws and may be picked up when walking along roads or areas with lots of cars. Watch for any discomfort your dog may be having and check their paws for redness or sores.
Hiking with dogs in the snow can be a fun and wonderful experience, as long as they are safe and protected. Take precautions, and enjoy this winter wonderland!