Helping Your Dogs Fight the Cold of Winter

By Ron Ayalon

As the winter months approach, you inevitably find yourself stocking up on heartier foods, switching out your tank tops for sweaters, and triple checking the windows in your house for drafts. Derek, your French Bulldog, and Lila, your Shepherd mix, can only grow thicker coats to prepare for winter. While this helps, it alone cannot alleviate any winter woes they may have - that's right! It is up to you to help your pooches stay warm and healthy, no matter how low the temperatures plummet.

So what can you do to lift your dogs' body temperatures - and spirits - enough to get them through the winter? The more obvious solutions are for the outside - booties, jackets, snow blowing paths for your pups to potty in, and so on, but people rarely think of their options for keeping their pets warmer indoors as well. Think about yourself in the winter - just because you wear a jacket outside doesn't mean that you never get cold inside.

Keeping Lila and Derek Toasty Indoors

The first step in keeping them warm indoors is food. They need more of it to maintain their body temperatures during the colder months. You also need to be sure not to overfeed them. A vet will have the answers in regard to proper portion increases based on your dogs' sizes and ages - it will not be the same for both of them.

It is also not a bad idea to find ways to warm their food up. You can do this by buying healthy organic soups or stews and adding a warm spoonful to Derek and Lila's kibble. Try a canned pumpkin pie filling; it improves digestion. Another option is to use a spoonful of warmed olive oil. This will not only warm them from the inside out, but also promote a healthy winter coat. Treats like shredded skinless boneless chicken breast or homemade doggie cookies make an excellent addition to Derek and Lila's mealtime. Think about how wonderful a treat, like a cup of hot cocoa, tastes to you in the winter. Why should your pups be deprived of a similar pleasure?

Sweaters and booties are a good idea for a small dog like Derek in the winter, even when he is inside. Such things would overheat Lila, but Derek, being a small breed is closer to the ground - where the drafts live. Both Derek and Lila's bedding, whether it is in a crate, a doggie bed, or otherwise should be elevated during the winter 3 - 4 inches to avoid them catching these floor drafts while they are asleep.

For small dogs like Derek, moving their bedding near to a space heater, radiator, or floor vent connected to your central heating system will help them stay even toastier at night. This being said, it is better to add blankets to your dogs' bedding than to trap them in sweaters to sleep. That way, if Derek or Lila get too warm, they can crawl out from under their blankets and not get overheated, which can do just as much damage as if they were cold.

Finally, never underestimate what a big dose of love and affection can do for Derek and Lila. Just like people, dogs can get down and depressed in the winter. Their coldness can be exacerbated by the lethargy brought on by their unhappiness. Play with your dogs, pet them, and cuddle with them. Daily activity, physical contact, and warm words are not gestures that go unappreciated by your furry friends. You might be surprised how much all this extra love keeps you both warm, inside and out!

Ron Ayalon
Article by Ron Ayalon
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