5 Expert Tips to Help Pet Owners Keep Their Dogs Happy, Healthy, and Warm All Winter Long

The holidays are over but winter is still here to stay for a few more months, and that means dog owners and their pups have to endure the cold for a little longer.

Some dog breeds thrive in the winter, but, just like people, not all canines love colder weather. Whether your pooch adores snow or prefers warmer temperatures, Erin DeAngelis, a category manager with Pet Supplies Plus, has tips that will help all pet owners keep their dogs happy and healthy through the winter.

Read on to see the simple adjustments any dog owner can make to ensure their pet has the best winter possible.

Set aside time to prepare for walks: When you're planning your day, add in an extra 15 minutes to your walk time — this is for gearing up and settling back in, which you definitely don't want to skip. Even though your dog is covered in fur, that layer is not incredibly warm, making it important that you get them into an insulated vest.

Gear up: A vest is just the start of the gear you can use to make the winter weather more bearable for your pup. Booties are great if you can get your dog used to them as they protect from the cold, irritating ice melt used on sidewalks, and potentially hazardous objects hidden in the snow. Start by having them wear them around the house. And, with shorter days, morning and evening walks may be in the dark, making it super important that you stay visible. Reflective harnesses and leashes for your dog work great. You may also find it helpful to take a backpack on walks filled with a towel (to dry your dog off in case they get wet), a first aid kit for cuts, snacks, and water.

Pay attention to their paws: As the snow melts and eventually freezes again through the winter, ice forms on sidewalks, roads, and driveways. Many different solvents are used to quicken the melting of the ice to avoid slip-and-fall injuries to humans, but some of the chemicals that are used to melt ice are toxic to pets. On your property, make sure you use pet-safe ice melt whenever possible. Be sure you always wash your dog's paws after a walk. The harmful chemicals are easily ingested as dogs regularly lick their paws. You'll also want to stock up on some balm for dry, cracked paw pads. This is common in the winter as the air is much dryer. It may also help to keep a humidifier running at home to return some moisture to the air.

Focus more on combing and less on baths: Given the cold, dry weather, it's best to minimize the number of baths you give your dog. Shampoo does a great job of cleaning their coats, but it can also strip the natural oils in a dog's skin that keep it hydrated. This can lead to flaky, itchy skin and increased dander/shedding in your home. Instead, focus on regularly combing your dog. You can even try spray shampoo.

Create a safe space for sleep: Depending on where your pet typically sleeps, it may be worth shifting that space in the winter months. Since pets typically sleep on the ground, make sure their bed is far from any drafts from doors or windows. This helps to ensure proper rest and prevent illness. Having them sleep on a carpeted surface or providing a large bed to insulate them from any cold coming up from the ground will help keep them stay dry and warm as well.

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