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  • Writer's pictureBear & Kind

7 Winter Wellbeing Tips For Your Dog

If you're anything like me this time of year, you're rugged up in three or four layers of clothing, a scarf, two pairs of socks, and huddled up to the heater in every room you enter. While they might have more hair than we do, as the mercury drops, our dogs still feel the cold in the same ways that we do. Cracked paw pads, dry skin or aching joints can make any dog miserable, but exposure to low temperatures can also lead to more serious conditions like hyperthermia. Here are 7 winter wellbeing tips to keep your dog warm and happy this winter.

1. Rug Up

If your dog is feeling the winter weather grab a jumper. Some dogs feel the cold more than others. A dog with less coat may need extra warmth around the clock, for others it might just be at night or on walks. Every dog is different. Even a double-coated breed might need a waterproof coat to keep out the chill on a rainy winter day. An older dog with arthritis will need additional warmth to manage joint pain. Aim for something that will cover your dog from his neck to the top of his tail and his belly as well.

2. Upgrade Bedding

Warm bedding is a must in the colder weather. Your dog's bed needs to thick enough to keep him comfy and off the floor, to provide padding for his joints. It should be placed in a warm spot away from drafts. You can add blankets for additional warmth. For an older dog you might consider a heated bed or heat pad for extra comfort and pain relief from arthritis.

3. Heating

Many of our canine friends enjoy a cat nap in front of the fireplace in the cool weather, and who can blame them. While it's important to keep them comfortable, be careful about letting pets get too close to heaters. Always use a safety grill or some sort of barrier to prevent overheating and burns. Dehydration can also be an issue in wintertime as many heaters tend to remove moisture from the air. Keeping a water dish (in addition to your dog's usual water source) in the room near the heat source will help.

4. Paw Protection

Whether there is snow on the ground or it's just bitterly cold, protect your dog's paws. Dry and cracked paw pads can be especially painful so invest in a good paw balm and consider a set of dog booties. They will protect his paws from the cold as well as salted surfaces in snowy weather and help him from slipping when it's wet. If your dog gets cold beans at home pop a pair of socks on... most dog socks come with grips on the bottom to prevent slipping and can also be useful after applying balm to prevent him from licking it off.

If your dog's paws do become cracked and sore try soaking them in a shallow bath or container with a tablespoon of baking soda or a handful of oats. If you are concerned about infection, you can use apple cider vinegar instead. Soak for a few minutes then dry well and apply some coconut oil or your favourite paw balm.

5. Dry Skin

Dandruff and dry skin are common in colder weather and there are a number of things you can do to treat it. Make sure your dog's diet includes omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, hemp seed oil and chia seeds. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds or oils are also great for a shiny coat and preventing dry skin. You can also use coconut oil on your dog to combat dryness.

Bathing your dog too frequently, especially in winter can increase dryness and itching. Try a pinch or two of baking soda and cornstarch or arrowroot powder either massaged in or brushed through his coat. This will help to absorb odours and excess oils in his coat and keep him smelling fresh until his next bath. You can add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender to add scent. Work it through the powder with your hands before applying it to your dog.

6. Arthritis

Keeping warm is especially important for a dog with arthritis. Whether your dog is a senior or you have a younger dog with joint injuries, protecting them from the cold will help to reduce pain and discomfort. A warm jumper or jacket for walks is a must to keep joints as loose as possible. A good quality, warm bed is also key. Memory foam can be effective with injured or older dogs, and a heat pad will maintain warmth and prevent joints from locking up. Other things you can do include a massage with warming essential oils such as lavender and peppermint, or a soak in a warm magnesium salts bath to loosen stiff joints and ease pain. A joint supplement is also a good idea, particularly in winter.

7. Yummy Winter Warmers

Looking for tasty ways to warm your dog's belly this winter? You can try boosting his meal by adding a splash of warm bone broth... it's chock full of goodness and a yummy treat in cool weather. A trick my dogs LOVE on a cold night is a scoop of warm pumpkin or sweet potato mash with their meal. I have also been known to give them some warm milk (lactose-free) as a treat, or a warm smoothie with oats, banana or berries. Believe me... your dog will love you all the more for it.

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