The winter months are no excuse for you to stop playing with your dogs. Winter boredom affects your dog as much as it affects you. Here are some tips on how you can keep your dog happy and healthy even during the colder months:
Food and nutrition
Don’t skimp on food. If your dog loves to play outside, feed them more as they will burn more energy during the colder months. However, if they will mostly stay home, their regular diet will be enough. Check the ingredients of the dog food to determine if it coincides with their natural diet in the wild. Keep their vaccinations up to date to give them protection during the winter. Keep medicine for dogs in stock in case they get sick. Dog vitamins will boost their immune system and protect them from diseases brought by the cold weather.
Let them play outside for a bit, probably a good five minutes or so, depending on the severity of the weather. Bury a stick in the snow and have them find it, or just play fetch. If you think it’s too cold, consider having them put on booties to protect their paws, or a coat to warm them. Dogs might not agree to wearing booties the first time you try it. However, if you encourage positive behavior by offering dog treats and letting them get used to it, they’ll come round to it.
When it’s too cold, move the activities indoors. Your dog won’t mind that you are playing fetch inside a cramped house. Make use of stairs that they can run up and down from. Utilize corners and play hide and seek with them. It is in the colder months that your dog will need the exercise so don’t fail them.
During the winter months, dogs require regular grooming more than ever. If their fur is matted, it will take more time for them to dry up after a walk outside. They’ll be colder and might develop ailments due to the cold. Better to trim their fur regularly, and check their paws. Even when there’s no snow cover, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paw pads to make sure the cold ground and salt deposits left by the snow doesn’t crack them. Dogs get frostbite too. Check the tips of their tails, the tips of their ears, and the pads of their paws. If you see whitening of any of these parts following a romp in the snow, better call the veterinarian ASAP.
Most of us make the mistake of turning the thermostat way down when we leave the house, leaving the family dog shivering in the cold. Keeping the thermostat at a comfortably low level of 65 degrees Fahrenheit will keep our dogs warm without a big effect in the electric bills. You might also consider getting a heated dog bed instead to make sure they are warm even when the thermostat is left low.