As the temperature drops significantly in southern parts of Australia, we need to ensure our canine members of the family are well cared for.

Just like us, our dogs in winter need shelter, warmth, food, and care. It doesn’t take much to keep our dogs healthy and safe when it gets cooler.

10 tips on how to care for dogs in winter

  1. Have a Vet checkup – Has your dog had their preventive checkup yet?  Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year, and it’s as good a time as any to get him examined to make sure he is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather
  2. Provide choices for sleeping inside – Pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give dogs in winter some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs
  3. Vulnerable dogs – Keep dogs that are young, old or on medication indoors as much as possible, because they are more vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
  4. Keep warm – If you have a puppy or a short hair-breed dog, consider getting a coat or sweater to cover their back and underside when you go for a walk outside. Vetmedicine says certain breeds such as Huskies and Samoyeds are better suited to very cold weather, but the majority of dogs and need your help and intervention. For outdoor dogs set up a suitable house in an area protected from wind, rain, and snow. Insulation, such as deep straw bedding will help keep in body heat.
  5. Eat well:  A well-nourished dog is better equipped to cope with cold weather.  Keep dogs in winter at a healthy weight. Outdoor dogs will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs during cold weather.
  6. Plenty of water – Indoor air tends to be drier in winter. Use a humidifier and provide plenty of drinking water so he stays well-hydrated.
  7. Grooming – Bathe your pet less frequently and make sure to completely dry them after baths. Brushing their coat stimulates blood circulation and can help improve the overall condition of their skin. Leave your dog’s fur longer during the winter to keep them warm.
  8. Keep your dog active – According to the Humane Society, the happiest dogs in winter are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. And, if your dog begins to shiver when you’re out for a walk, bring it inside immediately.  You can keep your dog active and have fun together inside with games such as hide and seek using dog treats – start by keeping your dog in one room while you hide treats in another. Then let him loose to find all the hidden treats. Make the dog treats fairly obvious to find in the beginning so he understands the game, and then work up to more elaborate hiding places.  Other games you can play with your dog are fetch and tug-of-war.
  9. Watch out for antifreeze –  Ethylene glycol in anti-freeze is poisonous to humans and other animals. For those who live in the coldest cities and regional areas of Australia and use anti-freeze in their car, make sure to clean up any spills on your driveway.  Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family
  10. Prevent burns – Portable heaters, gas and wood fireplaces, candles and electrical extension cords are used most frequently during winter. They can cause fires, burns and other injuries and should be kept away from dogs.

How to care for dogs in winter sources

ASPCA: Cold weather safety tips
AVMA.org Cold weather pet safety
Vetmedicine
Petwave.com
Trupanion.com Pet safety winter tips
Humanesociety.org