The groundhog saw his shadow, so naturally it’s STILL cold outside. For you, that means sweaters, marshmallows on top of your hot chocolate, and maybe warming up by the fireplace. What does the cold mean for your pup?

While we are perfectly content staying in and keeping warm, our dogs are not as equally satisfied. Winter isn’t leaving anytime soon, and that means doing things a little differently in order to keep your pooch happy this March. Here are some steps you can take in order to keep your dog happy and healthy during our colder months:

Maintain Proper Nutrition

With the environmental changes that accompany the winter season, it is important, first and foremost, to make sure that your dog is healthy. Fresh water is crucial to maintaining your pet’s overall health, especially during seasons of extremely cold temperatures. Additionally, it is advisable to adjust your pet’s food intake to match their activity. Because the winter season may alter how much outdoor activity your pet gets, the amount of food your dog eats should correlate with the amount of changing activity. If your pet eats more than its activity accounts for, you could have an overweight pup in no time! Look to these tips for further help with keeping your dog healthy:

  • Keep food and water available to your pet at all times, whether they are indoors or outdoors.  For those in colder areas, try a heated pet bowl like this one from Runnings to ensure your pet’s water is not freezing
  • Pay attention to how much and how often your dog eats and drinks
  • Periodically check your dog’s food and water when outdoors to ensure that insects and other critters do not contaminate it

Protect Their Skin

It’s easy to forget about your dog’s skin under all that fur, but depending on your dog’s breed, their hair or fur may not be equipped for dealing with winter weather conditions like snow and extremely low temperatures. Whether this applies to your dog or not, it is imperative that you ensure your pet is warm enough at all times. Try dressing your dogs, especially smaller breeds, in durable booties, warm coats, or even hats to protect their skin and paws from frostbite and keep them as warm as possible when outdoors. To protect their hair or fur, be sure that they are bathed and groomed when necessary to prevent dandruff, or dead skin cells, from being produced. Try these additional tips to make sure your dog’s skin, hair and paws are in the best shape for the cold season:

  • Increase your dog’s consumption of fatty acids
  • Introduce skin and coat supplements into your dog’s diet
  • Apply topical treatments, such as coconut oil, to dry, cracking skin as needed
  • Softly brush your pet’s coat daily to remove dead skin cells
  • Prevent ice buildup between your dog’s pads by consistently monitoring the hair growth between their pads
  • Rinse and wipe your dog’s pads after taking them outside to ensure the removal of any toxins from walking on frozen or salted surfaces
  • Avoid keeping your dog outdoors, attended or unattended, for long periods of time, especially during low temperature levels

Keep Them Busy

Whether it’s sleet or snow, rain or shine, dogs typically enjoy physical activity. Especially when it comes to larger breeds of dogs, playing in the snow can be a great, fun-filled workout for them. Try playing games with your dog, such as hide-and-seek; instead of having your dog find you, hide one of their favorite treats or toys outdoors, and send them on a scavenger hunt. This will physically and mentally stimulate your dog as well as improve their ability to track scents!

If the weather conditions outdoors are too rough, hide-and-seek can be just as fun and tiring for them when played inside. Hide their favorite treats in a toy such as the KONG® Classic to keep them busy.  Another indoor activity for you and your dog is to create an obstacle course: using household items, such as chairs and blankets, lead your dog through the obstacles, ensuring that neither you nor your pup gets hurt while getting some exercise inside. Here are further tips on maintaining your dog’s levels of physical activity:

  • Give them frequent breaks to drink water, rest, and warm up in between long periods of play
  • Try to catch as many rays of sun as possible with your pup before it goes down for the day
  • Encourage your pup to follow you around- chances are, that’s what they’d prefer to do, anyways!
  • Grab a new toy and/or some raw hide bones at your local Runnings to help keep them occupied!

Be Attentive

Just because your pup may be less active in cold weather doesn’t mean that you should pay any less attention to them. Always be attentive to what your dog is eating, drinking, and playing with or playing on, especially outdoors. Remember these suggestions when hanging out with your pet both inside and 2018/01outside:

  • Keep your dog from running around parked vehicles where it may encounter toxic chemicals, such as antifreeze
  • Leave your dog safely at home or with someone you trust and not alone in your car if you need to run errands
  • Stay close to your dog when walking or playing in unfamiliar areas
  • Remember, you can always add more layers when the temperature drops, but the same isn’t necessarily true for your furry friend- be sure to let them inside when needed!

The winter season can be a great time for you and your dog to create memories. Use the time spent indoors and outdoors to show your furry companion just how much they’re loved! Ski you next time here at The Rundown!