Dog owners should always take extra care to protect their senior dogs during the cold months. Of course, this is even truer if your dog does not sleep inside the home because all pets should have somewhere safe and comfortable to escape cold temperatures. Here are some ways to ensure the safety of your pets during cold weather.
1. A Sturdy Doghouse
A dog that spends even a few hours a day outside during cold weather should have a well-built and sturdy doghouse that can stand up to the elements. The shelter should ideally be positioned in a way that protects it from strong winds, allowing the dog to take shelter inside.
2. Doghouse Floor Doesn't Touch the Ground
The floor of an outside dog shelter should never touch the earth. To avoid this, always build or place a dog house on stilts or a small platform. The purpose of this is to prevent the cold in the ground from penetrating into the warmth of the dog house.
3. Watch Your Dog's Weight
It's natural for a dog to put on extra weight during cold months. This is from an increased appetite from the cold, as well as a reduction in exercise while there's snow on the ground. To avoid unhealthy weight gain in your senior, restrict treats during the cold months and monitor their weight as the temperature drops.
4. Plenty of Fresh Water
Unfortunately, many pet owners forget to check their pet's water during cold weather, allowing it to possibly freeze. There are a few ways around this, including offering your senior warm water many times throughout the day instead of relying on a watering dish placed outside.
5. Warm Bedding is a Must
Senior dogs are especially susceptible to the cold so it's important to make sure they have plenty of warm, dry bedding in their dog house. Although any sort of bedding will be sufficient, wet or damp bedding should be dried in the clothing dryer or replaced on a daily basis. Don't underestimate how wet the inside of a dog house becomes after a dog goes in and out a few times.
6. Check a Dog's Paws
Keep in mind that the salt used on sidewalks can harm the padding on a dog's feet. If your dog has access to an area that has been salted, such as during a walk, always take the time to wipe off residue with a warm, wet wash cloth to prevent harm.
7. Leave a Path
Areas that get large amounts of snow accumulation can make it difficult for a dog of any age to reach a spot to relieve themselves. Seniors can have an especially hard time making their way through snow to go to the bathroom. Always use a snow shovel to clear an area for a dog to get through.
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