How to prepare your dog for the cold and winter? Advice from veterinarian Hélène Gateau


1. Is it necessary to adapt to walks?
2. Is it necessary to dress a dog?
3. If you take your dog to winter sports, are there any precautions to take?

You don't like the cold, and neither does your dog. So how can you best protect your pet during the winter and prevent it from getting sick? In the street, it is not uncommon to see dogs dressed up. Apart from their cute appearance, is it really necessary to cover them up to go out in the street? Should you force your dog to go out, in case he stops, or is it better to shorten their walk? Hélène Gateau, the veterinarian, gives all her tips for your companion to have a nice winter.

Hélène Gateau: It depends on the type of dog. Those who are used to living indoors all year long will not be able to stand outside for a long time because their coat is not adapted to the cold and their body temperature has not gradually adapted to the drop in temperature. On the other hand, a dog that lives outside adapts better to the cold. His coat changes gradually, and he produces a layer of fat so he can continue to live outside during the winter. However, there is a condition to respect, he must have a kennel, a place to shelter, that is well equipped with plaids for his comfort, well protected from the wind, isolated from the cold of the ground, and in which the dog can have a minimum of heat.

Does the size of the dog affect its resistance to the cold?

Yes, small, very young, and old dogs will be more sensitive to cold. They are not animals that can be left outside when the cold sets in.

Are there any breeds that are more resistant?

The Labrador, hunting dogs, the Bernese Mountain dog... these are dogs that can stand the cold as long as they have a place to shelter from the cold. You should not hesitate to adapt their caloric intake and increase their ratio because fighting against the cold requires energy. Also, you have to use your common sense. For example, when it's ten degrees below zero, you should put your dog in the garage if he's not allowed to go inside the house. You have to adapt because a dog can really get cold.

Is it necessary to adapt the rides?

Yes, and it is important to avoid times when they are too stationary. It is good that they are always walking, and playing... if you spend too much time sitting at a café on an unheated terrace with your dog on the ground, he can get cold. In these cases, it is a discomfort for your pet even if dogs are more resistant to cold than humans thanks to their metabolism and their coat.

Should a dog be dressed?

A dog that is active outdoors, that is exercising and that is in good health has absolutely no need to wear a coat, a down jacket, or a sweater, it can even restrict its movements. A young or small dog, a dog with a very short, thin coat, or a sick or old dog may need to be covered up outside.

What are the symptoms of a cold dog?

A dog that is cold is shivering, you can tell.

If the dog doesn't want to go outside or stops during the walk, should you go inside or force him to continue?

Dogs prefer cold to heat because they can warm up, but it is true that if the animal is old or sick, with arthritis, we will limit the outings to a strict minimum. We won't force him to go out in these cases. If he stops during the walk, we can force him to move forward a little, but we must judge him by his behavior, once again it is common sense.

What is the ideal temperature for a dog?

In our interiors, they are rather good. In any case, the dog adapts and will seek out sources of heat, for example by going towards the sun when it is too hot to see the window or on the floor when it is too cool.

If you take your dog to winter sports, are there any precautions to take?

You have to be careful with the time spent in the snow because they catch a cold more easily if they stay in it for a long time, so you have to go gradually. In the snow, you also have to be careful with the little blocks of ice that form between the pads, and that can cause chapping, which is called frostbite. When you come back from a walk in the snow, even if you think that your dog has no snow on his paws, you must check the underside. If there is snow, you just have to put warm water on it and gradually increase the heat until it melts. Then, it is necessary to avoid the dog eating snow because it can cause vomiting, and gastritis which corresponds to an inflammation of the stomach. Also, be careful with the de-icing salt used on the roads. It can irritate the animal's paws, so don't hesitate to rinse them when you get back from long walks.

More generally, how to protect your dog's paws from the cold?

There are treatments to be used beforehand, such as Vaseline to be applied to the nose or the paw pads. There are also tanning balms that can be applied several days before going to the snow. This protection is rather for the dogs which will make big exits in mountains, which will remain there for several days. It will thicken the pads and make them more resistant to the cold.

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    Admin 1/05/2023

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