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Keep your dog warm this winter

Your dog looks forward to going outside. Pick up the leash or say the word "walk" and she's ready to go. But sometimes that blast of cold air can change her mind when you get to the street.

If you want your dog to enjoy her winter outings, get her dressed to stay warm and dry. That's how you dress yourself for winter walks. Dress your dog with equal care.

Buy a sturdy, well-made coat for your dog, expecially if you own a short-haired breed. The marketplace is full of adorable coats and sweaters. But make sure that you choose a coat that is easy to fasten, snug enough to keep your dog warm, and not too tight. The coat should not restrict movement or be too large or cumbersome for your pet to wear.

Choose a waterproof, insulated dog coat made of fleece or down with a sturdy shell to protect against snow and wind. Metal fasteners or Velcro closures are nice design touches. You may need to try several different styles before selecting one that works for your dog.

If you have a larger breed and the temperature dips, a coat is a wise investment, especially if you notice your dog shivering when outdoors. Senior dogs of any size should also wear comfortable outerwear.

It’s also important to have a spare coat on hand just in case one gets soggy during a storm.

Keep your dog’s paws clean and protected during winter. Your dog will find rock salt or chemically manufactured ice melting pellets on sidewalks and roadways are uncomfortable to walk on. Worse, they are potentially harmful to your dog.

If your dog will tolerate footwear, a pack of rubber booties is a great investment. Booties should fit snugly, and fasten easily, but not inhibit circulation. Booties are sold in a range of materials, so it’s important to select ones that offer solid protection from the salt and snow.

If your pet refuses footwear, apply some paw-protecting balm like Musher’s Secret. This balm coats the paws and acts as a waterproof barrier. Make sure the product has all natural ingredients. You will need to gently clean your dog’s paws after the walk to eliminate any remaining balm or debris. I like the chemical-free wipes from Seventh Generation, but any wipes that are chemical free would work.

For evening walks, you also may want to invest in a reflective collar or apply reflectors to your pet’s winter coat.

You want your dog to enjoy every walk. If you notice the cold, your dog may be feeling it, too. If the evening is colder than expected, and you turn back to get a heavier coat, your dog may feel the same way. Be sure that you both have a coat that fits the season.


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