As the cold, windy and snowy weather approaches you might be wondering if your dog needs some outdoor clothing. Some folks are all about the fashion, which can be fun; some folks are about performance materials and some folks think it is just silly to put winter clothing on a dog. Let’s consider some factors to help you decide if you pet needs some cold weather protection and if so, what kind will work the best for him or her.
According to the Pedigree Foundation, “when temperatures start to fall below 45°F, some cold-averse breeds will get uncomfortable and will need protection. For owners of small breeds, puppies, senior dogs, or thin haired breeds, anytime the temperature outside feels at or below 32°F, pull out the sweaters or coats!” This is good advice, as there is no set-in stone rule.It is your call, so you need to pay attention to your woof when you are outside as to his comfort level. One thing to keep in mind is, once you start putting a coat or jacket on your dog when she is outside, you need to keep it up until the warm weather arrives again. If you get tired of the extra time it takes to put your dogs coat on and skip it after a couple of weeks, your dog will be extra cold without his protection.
If you decide your dog can use a coat, measure him accurately for the brand you are going to purchase, (many manufacturers have different instructions). You want the coat to cover the dog from the middle of her neck to a bit past the base of her tail and a big portion of her tummy. Horse blanket manufacturers have been making all kinds of weights, lined or not, and waterproof clothing for horses for years.They also are the experts at surcingle’s, buckles and other ways to keep the coat on the animal.Check them out, they are a great choice for making your dog’s coat too.
What about the paws? According to Petfinder, "one of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. If your dog is limping by end of a walk, deicing products may be hurting his feet. Dogs may lick their paws or your boots and ingest deicing salts." Even if you are in the woods, not on plowed surfaces, snow can ball up in between your dog’s toes and make it uncomfortable for her to continue her hike.
There are 2 solutions to the winter paw challenge. The first is to put boots on your dog. There are a few things to consider when deciding which boots to buy. The first is comfort for the dog, if they are uncomfortable, it will soon become a struggle to get them on and you certainly don’t want to hurt the dog you are trying to protect! Make sure they are soft, pliable and have no sharp anything, (like the inside of the fasteners), on the inside of the boots. They should be durable as you will be using them regularly and hopefully, they will last a couple of seasons. Look for materials that are waterproof and rugged rather than materials that match the coat...And lastly, buy them in a color that you can see easily as no matter how expert you are at putting the boots on, at some point in time your dog will throw one off. It is much more pleasant to spend a couple of minutes looking for a boot outside in the freezing weather than hours.
The other solution, and sometimes easier, to the winter paw challenge is to use a paw balm, such as our Soothing Paws. Paw balm should be easy to apply. It should be soft enough to glide on the paws and yet thick enough to stay on long enough for the bottom of the pads to absorb it. You can put it on before you go outside to help keep the salt and snow off the pads and out from between the toes. You can put it on when you come back inside to help moisturize the pads. Make sure the one you choose is all natural and made from human grade ingredients. Would you want anything less for your dog? Check your dog’s paw pads regularly before the winter weather, so when you check them during the winter you will know if they are in need of some balm.
Enjoy the coming cold weather! With some preparation, your dog will enjoy it also! Hike on!