Once again, winter has returned to us here in Orangeville! With the advent of the colder weather, many people wonder if a sweater or coat is required to protect their furry friends during this chilly season. In general - it is best to address the individual canine to assess if cold weather gear is required for their comfort and winter care!
Although dogs look very sweet in fur trimmed parkas and cable knit sweaters, most do not need an extra layer as their own coat protects them from the elements during normal outdoor physical activities, especially when our winter is moderate. Consider your dog! Small (less than 10kg), lean or short haired breeds, or breeds that have origins in warm climates, (such as the Chihuahua from Mexico), may need extra protection. A coat may also be considered for your pet if they appear to be visibly bothered by the cold or wet - shown through shivering or reluctance to go out. Older pets may also appear to be more affected by the chill in the air - monitor them for signs of discomfort when you are out in the elements. Extreme cold can present a challenge to all!
If your dog requires winter clothing, be attentive with your selection! When choosing a coat - water resistant materials are best for warmth and for protection against light snow. Avoid items with buckles, zippers, decorative buttons or other fashion embelishments that could come loose or be eaten by your curious pet. For severe cold, insulated jackets are best. The clothing you select for your dog should always be soft, breathable, easy to put on and remove and must be washable. With our reduced hours of daylight - reflective materials offer an extra safety advantage for visibility when out walking. If your dog is not familiar with wearing clothing, it is important to introduce the coat or sweater gradually with positive re-enforcement so that it becomes a positive experience, rather than an upsetting event. If your pets responds to clothing by pulling at it, hiding, sulking or refusing to move - they are distressed and will need your help.
Unfortunately, our cold weather is accompanied by the use of salt by many to reduce and remove ice from walkways for safety. Salt is damaging to the pads of all dogs! Holding a foot up, chewing at the foot, or reluctance to walk is evidence of discomfort. Protection may be offered to dogs with wearing protective boots or application of pad protection salves available from your veterinary team. Some pets simply will require a light pad wash with tepid water (not hot)when returning home from an outdoor adventure to keep them safe and comfortable!
Keeping the unique needs of your canine companion in mind will allow you both to enjoy this season - get out there and enjoy it (as we can't beat it!)!