If you live in a wintry climate, you’re probably used to dealing with a certain amount of snow. But what do you do with your dog when there’s a blizzard outside?
From practical matters like pet emergency preparedness in snow, to fun stuff like indoor games to keep your dog entertained while the storm rages outside, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know about getting through a snowpocalpyse with your dog.
Dress for the Weather
Some dogs are built for snowy weather, but if your dog has a short natural coat, she’ll need an extra layer during a snowstorm.
Here are a few basic necessities of snowstorm gear for dogs:
- Water-resistant coat to protect from cold and wet
- Booties or paw protectors
- Dog goggles to protect sensitive eyes from sun glare off snow
From there, you can get as creative as you’d like (and as your dog will allow)! My dogs are pretty picky about clothing, so a basic blanket coat is the most we can manage. But if your dog likes to dress up, you can have a lot of fun with winter fashion for dogs.
Make Potty Time Easy
It’s a fact of life: dogs have to poop. But in blizzard-like conditions, you won’t want to spend too much time outdoors. During the heaviest snowfall, plan on quick, in-and-out potty breaks with your dog.
In addition to preparing your dog to go outside, you can prepare the outside for your dog:
- Shovel steps and walkways, and use a pet-safe de-icer.
- Clear a patch of grass for your dog to potty in (you may need to keep clearing as the snow continues to fall!)
- If your pet is sensitive to snowfall, construct a temporary shelter over a section of the yard. Even a sheet of plywood leaning against the shed can offer enough space for your dog to do her business and keep a dry head.
The easier it is for your dog to find a place to potty, the quicker your trips outside will be.
Walk Smart in Winter
Prepping for quick potty breaks is a great idea, but what if your dog still needs a longer walk? Walk time is walk time, even if there’s snow on the ground!
Before the walk:
- Bundle up if necessary. You and your dog should be protected from the elements.
- Secure the leash! If you slip and fall, you don’t want to lose track of your dog. Consider using a hands-free jogger’s leash as back-up to your regular leash.
- Clip on a collar light for your dog, and headlamp for yourself, to stay visible while the snow falls
During the walk:
- Avoid frozen-over puddles and ponds. As much as possible, stick to cleared sidewalks, packed snow, or parks and fields where you know the terrain.
- If it’s actively snowing, periodically brush snow from your dog’s face and coat.
- Carry a rag to clear snow, salt, and sand from between your dog’s toes.
After the walk:
- Use a damp rag to wipe down your dog’s feet, legs, and tummy. This will remove hitchhiking snow and ice, as well salt and chemical de-icers popularly used during snowstorms.
- Dry off your dog completely.
- Cuddle up under a blanket fresh out of the dryer for extra post-walk warming!
Click here to read more about cold-weather walking necessities for dogs.
Winter Emergency Preparedness & First Aid
Nobody likes to think about accidents or injuries involving their pets, but preparing in advance will protect your dog in case of a winter emergency. Make a pet emergency kit or “go bag” now to be prepared for for any potential disaster.
Your basic pet emergency kit should include:
- Food and water supplies for at least five days
- Extra leash and collar set
- Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container.
- A pet first-aid kit and guide
- Up-to-date vaccination records, recent photographs, and vet contact information, laminated or stored in a waterproof bag
- A laminated copy of written information about your dog’s feeding schedule, medical needs, and behavioral issues in case you become. In the unfortunate event that you and your dog become separated during an emergency, this will help caretakers look after your pet until you can be reunited.
Click here to read more about disaster preparedness for your dog.
Stay Warm and Have Fun Indoors
If it’s too cold for you out there, it’s probably too cold for your dog. Enjoy some romps in the snow, but remember to build in plenty of indoor time. There’s lots of stuff you can do indoors to entertain your dog:
- Work on obedience training
- Play indoor games like “hide the treat” and tug of war
- Use puzzle feeders and toys to make meal time more engaging
- Build an indoor obstacle or agility course
Of course, some dogs love to play outside in the snow, and a blizzard won’t slow them down! There’s nothing wrong with walking in a winter wonderland, so long as you make sure your dog is safe and warm. If you notice her shivering, whining, or acting uncomfortable, head indoors right away.
With some cold-weather preparation and a positive outlook, you and your dog can make the most of the snowpocalypse. Spring will be here before you know it, but for now, enjoy the snow with your best friend!
Featured image via flickr/thisisbossi
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