7 ways to make winter better for your dog
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7 ways to make winter better for your dog

Dogs
Life As A Pet Parent

Winter is a time of change — the natural colours change, the colder weather sets in and the days get shorter and shorter. It’s also a good time to change some of your caregiving habits where your dog is concerned, to ensure yours is a healthy happy pup!

Winter is also a season with many festivals and celebrations, which often involve more people coming into your house, fireworks exploding fairly regularly and lots of sweet treats around. So, with all these things in mind, we’ve come up with a list of 10 tips to make sure your furry companion has a super fun winter too!

1. Light up your (dog’s) life!

Days are getting shorter, and especially now that the clocks have gone back you’ll probably find yourself walking your dog in the dark. Invest in some reflective gear and maybe even some wearable lights. There’s a plethora of products available, including dog jackets, LED collars, armbands, and reflective leads. A head torch for yourself can be so handy too, but be careful not to dazzle drivers!

2. Wrap up

Yes dogs have fur, but at times temperatures can drop really low in the winter. So, especially if your dog is mature, give them a cosy covering to stave off the chills. There are plenty of cute weatherproof jackets on the market to avoid soaking — being wet can really cause your pup’s body temperature to drop. Generally speaking, most dog breeds will be warm enough if the weather is above freezing, but if you have a short hair breed, it might be worth taking extra precautions. This can be especially important if your dog has joint pain or arthritis. Why not get them a cute towel or robe to dry them off after walkies too? Hang it on the radiator and wrap them up like a burrito after a damp stroll.

3. Get out

Yes, we know sometimes it’s raining cats and dogs, blowing a gale and you’re both staring out the window thinking ‘brrrrr! I’m not going out in that!’, but getting out at this time of year is good for your pup, and you. You can stick together to face the weather! Fresh air and cold exposure are known to be fantastic for immunity — a win-win for the winter season with all the bugs flying around. It gets the blood pumping, and all the sniffs and interactions are so good for your dog’s mental wellbeing. If you’re concerned about doggies getting cold or cracked paws on your outdoor adventures, think about investing in some dog boots, paw protectors or dog paw balm.

4. Forward planning for fireworks

We just couldn’t do winter care tips without mentioning this one. Fireworks abound, especially in November and towards Christmas and New Year. As we all know, this can cause so much anxiety for our pups. Find out where and when the organised events are in your community and be prepared! Build a dog den — a safe space within your house where they can run to if they feel scared, stick some soothing music on, close the curtains, and above all, stay in with them instead of heading out to the party. No, you’re not a bore — you’re doing the kindest thing you can for your furry family member. If you know your dog gets extremely anxious, ask your vet in advance about some calming medicine, or try an over the counter herbal version. And if your pup is struggling year on year, seek expert advice from your vet or local behaviourist on some techniques that can help to lower the tension and fear, and desensitise them to the noise.

5. Put those festive treats out of reach

Festivals and celebrations at this time of year tend to bring loads more folk inside your house for cosy dinners or big family banquets, whatever your cultural tradition. A very fun time of year! Keep a watchful eye on your doggie — make sure they’re enjoying the company too rather than freaking out. Dogs often don’t know how to react to rustling decorations, exploding crackers or even twinkling lights; they can give them the heebie jeebies. There will be a lot of sugary treats around too — delicious for humans but potentially harmful to pets. Keep those morsels out of reach to ensure a carefree season for our canine chums. The furries deserve a treat too, and pumpkin is a popular flavour at this time of year. So why not bake them some healthy treats? This sweet orange addition can be good in moderation for our furry friends. But remember, the key word is moderation!

6. Play

Have fun, create a sense of childlike joy for your doggie, especially on those utterly miserable wet, rainy days. True, there may be less opportunity to do some doggie socialising as folk retreat indoors but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! There are loads of interactive toys on the market, whether squeakies or tug toys or balls are your pup’s particular bag. Just like us humans’, our dogs’ spirits might be a bit lower this time of year, so perk them up and have some lively living room sessions, rolling, playing, being silly. They will appreciate it so much. If you notice they might be missing social activity, check your local area for doggie meetups or find some dog friendly cafes in the vicinity. Community is vital to get us through the darkest part of the year, even for pups!

7. Snuggle up

There’s nothing more comforting than snuggling up with your furry bestie on a chilly winter evening. Our dogs are our family and being close to them, hearing and feeling them breathing, and even gently stroking their fur can lift your mood. Do pay attention to cues though, and snuggle in a way that they enjoy too. A note on actual cuddles: Dogs often don’t love human-style cuddles; it can feel threatening, so do respect this and show love in a way your dog appreciates. You’ll cherish these moments for life and this season is perfect for slowing down and hibernating together!

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