Guide Dog Foundation


 Winter Care Tips

To help keep your dogs in top shape during the winter months,
check out these winter care tips.

  • Don't leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time. Be attentive to your dog's body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.
  • Keep your dog warm, dry and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.
  • Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat as long as it does not impede the use of a harness. Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. 
  • Towel or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean its paws, too. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking. 
  • Don't leave your dog alone in a car without proper precautions. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.

 Health Tips 

  • Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it smells and tastes good to your dog, it can be lethal. 
  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate foot pads. Be sure to rinse your dog's feet after a walk with a warm, damp cloth or towel and be sure to dry them off afterwards.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. 
  • Frostbite is your dog's winter hazard. To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don't leave your dog outdoors for too long.
  • Be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
  • Dogs can be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
  • Don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.

 Holiday Safeguards 

  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are pet poisons! Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach. 
  • Remove holiday lights from lower branches of your tree. They could get hot or the dog may become entangled.
  • Watch out for electrical cords. Pets may chew them and may get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place wires out of reach.
  • Be careful using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a dog's feet and mouth.
  • Commercial ornaments may contain paint or toxins in the preservatives - make sure your dog does not attempt to eat them.
  • Whether your tree is live or artificial, both kinds of needles are sharp and indigestible. 
  • Tinsel is dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.
  • Alcohol and chocolate are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts. Keep unhealthy, sweet treats and seasonal goodies out of reach.

 With some extra care and vigilance, you and your dog will enjoy a worry-free winter.