You’ve heard the expression “three-dog-night” — a night so bitterly cold you’d need three dogs in bed to keep you warm. The phrase begs the question: who keeps the warming dogs warm?
“Winter can be really tough on older dogs. They find it hard to regulate their body temperature, and the cold can exacerbate arthritic joints,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. Here are some tips to keep your senior companion cozy.
- Warming Beds (pet safe) are well-loved by arthritic cats and Orthopedic Beds are appreciated by older, arthritic dogs.
- Exercise is vital to prevent painful arthritic joints, but opt for shorter, more frequent sessions and plan alternative indoor options for when temps are in the teens.
- Health Check – Maintain winter checkups with your routine or hospice veterinarian to adjust medications and/or supplements.
- Snow Management – Use pet-safe salt and shovel a path for your pal’s duty calls. You may need to stay with your pet to convince them to do their “job” when temps drop.
- Paw Protection Options – There are booties and gators galore but if wrangling is involved (or you’re sick of replacing lost boots) try Mushers Wax or a similar product.
- Staying Dry – Dog coat couture is all the rage, but opt for the easiest on & off options for comfort. A wrap-style coat may be more comfortable than a full snowsuit.
- Drying Off – Slay snowballs with a rubber whisk, use warmed towels from the dryer, and outfit your dog with a quality wrap-style drying coat.
- Dry Skin – Stimulation via regular brushing with a light coat conditioner and supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids will help prevent skin irritation from winter’s dry heat.
- Winter Walking Assistive Devices for handicapped dogs make exercise more viable – and fun! Dog wheelchairs like Walkin’ Wheels offer ski adaptations for winter use.
- Enrichment remains vital to your companion’s cognitive wellness and overall quality of life. In addition to puzzles and scent games, consider indoor cavaletti games using kits or PVC piping. Cavaletti is a popular way to work the muscles, challenge the brain, and build your bond.
These tips will help you keep your beloved companion comfortable and maintain his or her quality of life during the depths of winter.