Even when the temperature drops, Rover still needs to head to the great outdoors to do his business and get some exercise. Here’s how to help him stay warm and comfy this winter.
Prep pre-stroll: A dog’s size, breed, age, and overall health will determine how well he tolerates the cold, says Barbara Hodges, D.V.M, a holistic vet and consultant for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Sturdier dogs with thicker coats tend to fare better than slimmer dogs with thin coats, while puppies and older dogs can have a harder time regulating their body temperature. Give your pooch a leg up by vigorously rubbing his limbs, hips, tail, feet, and spine for several minutes before you head out; this’ll improve blood flow and create a warming sensation.
Keep an eye out: Watch for any changes in behavior that could signify your dog is getting too chilly when outside. If he starts to seem lethargic or begins to shiver, it’s time to head in, says Hodges.
Protect against the elements: A coat or sweater made from lightweight fleece can help keep your dog warm without absorbing moisture, and booties prevent road salt from irritating footpads. “If your dog won’t tolerate boots, just dip his paws in warm water when you come inside to remove the salt,” Hodges says.
Recover post-walk: Cold air is dehydrating, Hodges says, so make sure your pooch gets plenty to drink once you get back in the house.