As the winter season approaches, you may be eagerly awaiting roaring fireplaces, festive decorations and of course, the first snowfall. Nothing will put you in the holiday spirit more than walking in a winter wonderland, but you will feel especially jolly if your dog joins along for the fun.
So what if your dog has never been in the snow? How do you introduce a dog to snow? Never fear! We have compiled some safety tips on how to introduce your dog to snow for the first time.
To prevent illness and infection, make sure to dry off your dog's ears before heading inside. Some dogs' ears are floppier than others, and will need a more thorough (yet gentle) rub down.
Consider your dog's breed before hitting the snow
Some dogs, like the Husky, are naturally inclined for colder climates. Other breeds with thin coats, like the Chihuahua or Italian Greyhound, fare better in warmer climates and may be completely clueless (and intimidated) when it comes to the snow, sleet, and ice. Whatever your dog's breed may be, this will surely impact your strategy moving forward. Take breed into consideration before introducing your puppy to the cold weather.
Small dogs can't control their body temperature as well as large dog breeds, so limit your time in the snow or general cold temperatures with these dogs.
Purchase a winter coat for your pooch
Dogs in snow for the first time may feel more secure with the weight and warmth of an extra layer to block out the harsh winter. For dogs with thin coats, a jacket can be helpful to ease the chill of a brisk winter walk. The necessity for a winter coat all depends on your dog's breed, size, coat length, age, overall health, and the weather, of course!
Be sure to take your dog's coat off once you are indoors so your dog can return to his normal temperature. You do not want him to overheat!
Protect your dog's paws
When the cold ice meets your dog's paws for the first time, he may be in for a shock or scare. Usually, dog are not a fan of cold and wet paw pads, especially when the snow can collect in between their toes for an unpleasant icy experience. So what can you do to keep your pooch feeling confident and comfortable for his first run in the powder?
Invest in a pair of dog boots so your dog can walk in the snow with his paws protected. Just be sure that his booties are the perfect fit. They should be nice and snug! Dog booties are a matter of preference for your pooch, so if your dog isn't digging his fancy new shoes, not to worry. There are other ways to protect your pupper's paws.
Be sure to trim hair in between your dog's toes, wipe down wet footsies after a romp in the snow, and soothe dry or cracked paw pads with paw wax before your friend goes outside to play again!
Watch out for salt and de-icers
These materials can be dangerous to your dog if ingested, even if non-toxic. Rock salt can also lead to cracked paw pads, which are not comfortable for your pooch. To keep your dog safe, wipe down your pupper's paw pads after a play in the snow to insure he is clean and safe!
Take baby steps
When freezing temperatures hit, many dog owners may be eager to jump right into the snow with their pooch for some winter fun. If your dog has never been in the snow before, however, it is important that you start off slowly so as not to overwhelm him and create negative associations with your winter wonderland. Avoid staying outside for long periods. Take it slow, small, and steady.
Small area first
Start off in a small, enclosed area like a yard or park for your dog's first day of play in the snow. Your pup will feel more comfortable with less ground to cover on his first snowy adventure. And don't forget to bring lots of doggy treats! Treats make everything better.
Keep a close eye on your pup
Always watch your dog for any signs of discomfort or unusual behavior. Foreign objects and toxins can hide in the snow and out of your sight line, so it is important that you keep a watchful eye on your dog, especially during his first time playing in the powder.
When you're ready to take a snow day with your dog, protect them from the winter weather. Even if your dog is an Alaskan or Siberian husky and they are natural sled dogs, their thick coat will only protect them for so long. Keep in mind too that their paws may be coated with rock salt, so they'll be happier if they get cleaned up after their day outside.
Your dog may appreciate some moisturizer on his nose after the snow day. Other things your dog needs after a long day in cold weather may be extra water and a longer nap.