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Keeping Pups Comfortable in the Snow and Cold

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For many people, the weather during this time of year is cold and blustery, and the prospect of snow and ice on the ground has reared its ugly head. For some dogs, this is wonderful! Many dogs of all breeds, but particularly the ones bred to work in harsher climates, relish the cold weather, including the snow and ice. For others, it inspires a desire to hibernate. (This goes for some of us humans too.) 

Even though for us here in Santa Barbara, California we’ve just been dealing with atmospheric river rainstorms, most of us will have to get outdoors with our dogs at some point in the cold, so here are a few tips and tools to help keep your canine companion more comfortable.

Paw Protection

Booties or other footwear: Most dogs don’t terribly mind having cold feet, but winter can still cause them discomfort due to ice balls forming on their paws or salt stinging their pads. Booties are a great solution. Your veterinarian or a knowledgeable pet supply store employee can probably recommend a brand suited to the climate you’re likely to be dealing with. Some dogs take naturally to booties, while others will need to get accustomed to them. You can follow a protocol similar to the one we posted about getting your dog comfortable wearing their Halloween costume.

Pet-safe Snow Melters 

There are now a number of brands of salt and salt analogs that don’t sting the way traditional salt products do. Of course you can use these on your own property; in addition, if you would like to extend their use to more of your dog’s “home turf,” ask your neighbors if they’ll consider changing to a brand that will keep your pup’s pads comfortable when they walk on sidewalks near your home.

Paw Wax

A longtime secret of dogsled drivers, foot waxes such as Musher’s Secret can help stave off balls of snow and ice in your dog’s feet, as well as providing a protective layer against stinging salt. Unlike with booties, most dogs are fine with having the wax applied, and some enjoy licking it off! (Don’t worry, it’s safe.)

Dress for Success

Coats and other warm clothes can help keep them cozy…and fashion-forward. In addition to dressing yourself appropriately, it may help to get a warm coat or sweater for your inquisitive canine to wear. Short-haired dogs particularly can benefit from an added layer of protection from the elements. As with booties, your dog may not immediately take to the process of having their coat put on and taken off, but you can use desensitization and counterconditioning to teach them to be OK with it. The good news is that most winter dog clothes fit right over (or under) a comfortable and well-fitting dog harness. 

Here’s to staying warm, safe, and healthy while unleashing adventures in the great wintry outdoors! 

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