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As the colder weather is very much beginning, how we walk, care for and manage our dogs and of course, how we live our own lives tends to change a little to how we go about things in the summer, which is something that we don’t usually think about in much detail because it is such as normal annual occurrence.
However, both people and dogs also go through a few seasonal changes as the weather starts to get colder, and knowing about how this affects dogs and how their needs change can help you to keep abreast of your dog’s needs and account for the ways in which winter affects our lifestyles and our dogs.
In this article, we will look at how you as a dog owner can help your dog to transition to winter mode happily and in good health, and how to ensure that your dog stays fit and healthy over the colder months of the year. Read on to learn more.
When we think of shedding season for dogs, we usually think of spring and the start of summer, when dogs begin to shed their heavier winter coats and grow in their lighter, finer summer coats.
However, dogs also go through a shed in the autumn/early winter, to lose some of the summer coat and grow the thicker winter coat back in.
During the first few weeks of winter, your dog’s new coat will grow in earnest – and you may even be able to get a feel for how harsh the winter is going to be if you know your dog and their coat well, and can tell if it is thicker or finer than the previous year.
Brushing and grooming your dog regularly while they are going through this seasonal shed will help to remove lost hair from the coat and keep it from building up in the home, as well as stimulating the skin and hair growth to improve your dog’s new winter coat.
If your dog is a robust, hardy breed that thrives in cold weather like the Alaskan malamute, they are already more than up to the task of coping with the cold. However, many other dog breeds are not so well acclimatised to cold weather, so you might need to invest in some equipment to keep them warm and comfortable in the winter.
Waterproof dog coats and insulated, warming jackets are well worth investing in for dogs with short or thin fur or even those that have thicker fur but tend to be lean and slender, and some breeds can greatly benefit from wearing booties to protect their paws outside of the home too.
Walking your dog during the winter can be a challenge, as the weather is colder, and the ground is cold and hard too. Additionally, the dark mornings and evenings can make it hard to ensure that your dog gets enough exercise, and you may have to adjust your routine slightly to account for all of these factors.
Also, some of the areas that you walk in during the summer might become too muddy or inhospitable for winter walks, so always have a plan in place to give you some options of where to go if your preferred route is no longer suitable.
When you walk your dog in the winter, take special care to ensure that they warm up and cool down properly when exercising, and if your dog is wet, cold or mucky when you get back home, always clean and dry them off immediately.
Even if your dog doesn’t need booties in the cold weather, the hard ground, ice, and gritting and road surfacing products and chemicals can still have an impact on your dog’s paws, so take care to check them over every time you get back from a walk.
Avoid walking your dog on road grit and de-icing agents, and if this is unavoidable, wash your dog’s paws and dry them thoroughly as soon as you come back home.
During the winter, check your dog’s paws over every day for signs of cracks, splits or other issues that can potentially be painful and debilitating if not addressed quickly.
Your dog should be up to date with all of their vaccinations and boosters regardless of the time of year, but winter cold tends to have an impact on the dog’s immune system, supressing is slightly, making them a little more prone to picking up illnesses and minor ailments like coughs and colds.
Keeping your dog fit and healthy, and ensuring that they don’t spend a lot of time wet and cold can all help to ensure that your dog stays healthy during the winter.
As well as thinking about how the weather outside can affect your dog, so too can the atmosphere in your home. If you use central heating or another form of very dry heat, this can potentially irritate the respiratory system of both dogs and people, so upping the humidity level in your home slightly may help.
Additionally, ensure that your dog’s bed and where they relax and chill out is warm enough too, and has a stable temperature that will not dramatically drop during the night.
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