Dogs in Winter: 10 Most Important Tips

Not only do people have to adjust to the cold season, dogs too   especially city dogs or specimens that are particularly sensitive to cold   usually need more care and attention in winter. To ensure that your dog gets through the winter healthy, the Federal Veterinary Association has summarized the most important questions about dogs in winter.

Can my dog ​​catch a cold?

Drafts or lying on cold stones or in a cold environment can also lead to diseases such as bladder infections or a weakening of the immune system in dogs. This can promote infection of the respiratory tract because viruses or bacteria then have an easier time. Targeted treatment of the sick animal by the veterinarian may be necessary. When the temperature is below zero, the following applies: keep moving so that the dog does not become hypothermic or catch a cold. After a walk in cold, wet weather, it’s a good idea to give your dog a good towel rub and leave it in a warm place to dry.

How do I know if my dog ​​is cold?

If the dog doesn’t tolerate the cold well and feels unwell, it will shiver, tuck its tail, walk numbly, and usually also more slowly. Dogs – especially those with short coats and no undercoat – can quickly become cold and hypothermic if they are not moving. When it’s really cold, a dog shouldn’t have to wait anywhere for too long – be it in an unheated car or on a cold floor in front of the supermarket.

Is a dog coat necessary in winter?

Healthy dogs usually don’t need a coat or sweater for outdoor walks in winter. Any form of clothing is rather irritating for dogs, it can also restrict freedom of movement. For old or sick animals, breeds with short fur and no undercoat, a dog coat can be useful in exceptional cases.

When buying, you should pay attention to light, skin-friendly, and breathable material. Wool or cotton is not water-repellent and therefore not suitable. When choosing a suitable dog coat, the most important thing is the fit and not the brand. The dog coat must fit well and must not constrict any part of the body or rub against the skin. But it shouldn’t be too loose either, because then it won’t warm enough or the dog will get stuck on objects or bushes. In severe frost, it is generally recommended to keep the walks shorter and to make sure that the dog is always on the move. In any case, trembling dogs belong in the warmth.

Should dogs wear dog shoes (booties) in snow and ice?

The dog’s paw is quite robust by nature, but the pads of some dogs are sensitive and soft. Regular checks are important. For dogs with soft or cracked pads, it may make sense to put booties on the animals when there is ice and snow in the city. These protect against sharp-edged ice and road salt.

Does the dog need special paw care in winter?

The main problem in winter is road salt. Salt is especially a problem with dry, cracked bunions because it can get into the cracks and cause pain. In addition, the sensitive pads are often licked off intensively after a walk, which in turn can lead to stomach problems. You should therefore rub the dog’s paws with milking grease or Vaseline before going for a walk and rinse off the residue thoroughly with warm water at home. Many dogs are reluctant to have their pads touched, which makes rubbing them in difficult. Training on this can be useful so that the balls and the hairy areas in between can be treated before the walk.

What do I have to consider after the walk in winter?

A thorough lukewarm “foot bath” for the dog after the walk is enough to rinse off the salt. Afterward, the balls should be rubbed again with fatty ointment. If the pads are painfully irritated by salt, the dog will lick the areas excessively, promoting further irritation and inflammation. In addition, he takes in more salt, which can lead to gastrointestinal irritation. To prevent too much ice formation between the pads, the hair can be shortened there.

Is wet weather particularly dangerous in winter?

A wet dog should be dried off in winter and then kept indoors in a warm, dry, draft-free place until completely dry. Wet dogs should not lie on cold surfaces such as stone or tile, as this can promote inflammation of the lungs or bladder.

Go for a walk in the dark?

In the dark, people and animals should wear visible reflectors so that drivers can see them and keep their distance. Reflective collars, light-up collars, or clickable reflectors are one option, and a full harness with reflectors is another. Flashing reflectors are rather irritating for dogs and can also lead to communication problems with each other. It is therefore better to remove safety equipment when playing with other dogs or in open, protected areas. 

Do I have to feed my dog ​​differently in winter?

Dogs that spend most of their time outside use more energy to keep warm in winter. For such animals, the feed ratio and quality must be different and higher in winter than in summer. For most family dogs or house dogs, the cold does not play a role in their diet because they are only outdoors for a limited amount of time.

But be careful: even dogs with short fur and no undercoat need more energy in winter to regulate their heat balance. This may also apply to shorn animals (after an operation or ultrasound examination) or sick animals. Ask your vet specifically about this.

Can my dog ​​eat snow?

Most dogs love to frolic in the snow, and many even like to eat the snow, but not every dog’s stomach can handle the ice-cold food. Sensitive dogs that eat snow can easily get an upset stomach, abdominal cramps, or snow gastritis with bloody diarrhea and vomiting. If road salt is also added to the snow, it can cause serious irritation and damage to the dog’s stomach lining. It is best if you offer your dog enough water before the winter walk so that he does not get too thirsty outside. You should also refrain from throwing snowballs at your dog. It’s fun, but it only encourages you to eat snow.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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