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Thanks to Nicole Ellis, professional trainer and member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, for this post on dog winter safety.
Many dogs get excited about exploring winter’s wonderland, but they need protection against the elements, just like us. Here are some helpful recommendations, tips, and product suggestions for dog winter safety this season.
Dog Winter Safety: Skin, Coat, and Paw Care
We change our beauty and skincare routines when the weather is cold, and your dog can benefit from extra winter care, too. Towel drying your pet after outside time can help their dry skin stay healthy. It also doesn’t hurt to invest in some salmon oil, which can keep your dog’s coat moisturized from the inside out, as well as a special butter or salve to keep on hand for chapped paws and dry noses.
This point should be pretty obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway: Don’t shave your pets in the winter; your pet needs their coat to stay warm.
For longer-haired pets, a nice trim around the feet can prevent snowballs from building and clinging to their fur and from forming between their paw pads, which can be painful and can also cause sores. After your walk or hike be sure to check between the pads of your dog’s feet for any snow or debris, and use a paw protector.
Musher’s non-toxic wax is a great winter safety tool. It’s made with beeswax and vitamin E, which are naturally moisturizing and protective for your dog’s paws.Shop on Chewy
Pad wax can also be a lifesaver against the drying effects of road salt and freezing sidewalks. Check out the recipe below that you can make at home.
Older dogs may be at greater risk for aches and pains related to the cold. They may also be more prone to slips and injuries on icy surfaces. Consider adding a hip and joint supplement to keep old dogs feeling young, and monitor outdoor playtime to ensure they don’t overtire.
On your walks, be mindful of antifreeze puddles where cars are parked. Remember that antifreeze is highly toxic—and tasty—to dogs and cats. Ethylene glycol poisoning signs include intoxication, vomiting, and stomach pain, so keep a close eye on dogs when they’re outdoors and consult a professional immediately with any concerns.
If your dog will tolerate them, a good set of non-slip dog snow boots can be helpful in preventing slides and falls, and they offer additional safety from dangerous chemical deicers that can harm your pet in winter.
When it comes to protecting those lovely limbs, my favorite winter safety pick is Ruffwear’s rugged Grip Trex boots. These kicks come in pairs of two, are designed with rugged, flexible soles and tight-woven mesh, and secured with adjustable Velcro.Find on Amazon
If you have a smaller dog, Muttluks boots are superb at protecting those petite paws for winter safety. Velcro straps, fleece lining, and leather soles help keep furry feet secure and comfortable.Find on Amazon
Dog Winter Safety: Layer Up
Jackets aren’t only for fashion: despite having fur, our pets can get cold, too. Feeling your dog’s ears is a great way to tell their temperature. If they feel cold, particularly around the edges, it may be time to go inside and snuggle up in a blanket. Consider adding on a coat before continuing your walk for added winter safety.Shop on Chewy
A great fit for active dogs in winter, this Ruffwear jacket is insulated and weather-resistant, keeping your dog safe from the elements, while also being light enough—with its nylon and spandex design—to move with your dog.Find on Amazon
Dog Winter Safety: Invest in Quality Reflective Gear
Another smart safety thought for your winter-loving pup? When it’s time to go outside, high-visibility vests, leashes, and lights will keep Fido looking cool and in view during the long dark days and nights. Here are some additional dog winter wear recommendations.
Made from double-stitched, weatherproof, rip-resistant nylon in highly visible reflective neon orange, this comfortable vest catches eyes in the daytime and after dark.Find on Amazon
Designed in two different diamond-pattern colors, this dog leash is inspired by super-tough climbing rope. Reflective 3M thread is integrated into this solid leash for winter safety, which also features stainless aluminum hardware.Shop on Chewy
Harness the glow, and your dog, with the Wonder Walker—available right now at The Rover Store. Made in seven different sizes, the family-owned brand’s harness is a popular choice amongst dog lovers for its no-pull design and super strong nylon webbing material. Add to that two leash attachment options, plus night-visible reflective threading, and you’ve got yourself a safe, evening-appropriate look.Shop on The Rover Store
Dog Winter Safety: When All Else Fails, Get Cozy!
Finally, a good rule of thumb when considering dog winter safety is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets. So keep everyone inside, safe, warm, and dry (and check out our guide to getting cozy with your dog to do it right)!
Whatever you do, we hope you stay safe, take care, and enjoy this special season with your pet!
- Running With Your Dog: A Winter Guide
- Winter Dog Treats: Recipes to Make at Home and Treats to Buy
- January Is Walk Your Dog Month: Here’s How to Do It Right
- The 12 Best Winter Dog Hats for the Next Cold Snap