Keep your dog healthy and warm through the winter months
BY RACHEL DESPRES
Even at the age of 11, Trinity, a female golden retriever, still loves rolling around in snow. Owner Janis Johnson-Schiedel says, “Even when it’s cold and her feet get cold she doesn’t want to come in.”
Just like people, dogs are affected by the frigid temperatures of the winter months, so it’s important to ensure your dog is properly equipped for the change of season. On the Danforth spoke with a registered veterinary technician and a pet store manager for their advice on how to help you and your pup prepare for the great white outdoors.
Food and Water
Adjusting your dog’s food intake depends on whether they reside primarily indoors or outdoors. If they spend most of their time in the comfort of your home, their food intake should remain status quo. However, according to Bailey Vandenbrink, a registered veterinary technician at Ostrander Veterinary Clinic, “their water consumption is higher due to [the] temperature in the house,” so it’s important to allow them access to the water bowl at all times. On the other hand, if your dog spends long periods of time outdoors, Vandenbrink recommends increasing food consumption and “mak[ing] sure available water does not freeze.”
Along with providing more food, some owners also choose to change their dog’s food formula. Kaitlyn Stewart, a manager at Pet Valu, suggests switching to salmon or fish blends, as they are “a lot higher in those nice fats and oils.” She recommends the Performatrin Ultra Healthy Weight with Salmon Recipe or Performatrin Ultra Grain-Free Recipe, which contains turkey, salmon and duck.
If you tend to bathe your dog frequently, these occurrences should decrease during the winter months. Vandenbrink’s advice: “Bath[e] less due to dry air.”
Johnson-Schiedel, whose family has two dogs in addition to Trinity, says she doesn’t bathe them at all in the winter, “unless they happen to get into something smelly.” As a general rule, she doesn’t bathe them more than three times per year, because frequent bathing can strip the natural oils from their coats.
Some dogs are naturally equipped for cold weather. Thick-haired dogs such as huskies are more tolerant of below-zero temperatures, while shorthaired breeds like French bulldogs are more sensitive. For these breeds especially, jackets and boots are essential. For extreme temperatures, Stewart recommends the parkas offered by Canada Pooch. For milder winters she suggests the waterproof coats offered by RC Pet Products.
As for boots, “The Muttluk is our best one,” Stewart says. Muttluk boots are insulated and water resistant. “The nicest thing,” she says, “is that they stay on really well. They come really far up the leg, so the dog doesn’t just kick them off.” If your dog doesn’t like boots you can use ointments such as Fou-Stick Protect or Dr. Maggie Paw Protector, which help prevent irritation or cracking from exposure to salt, snow and ice.
By following these recommendations, you’ll be helping to ensure the health and well being of your dog so they, like Trinity, can enjoy winter well into their adult years.
Photographs provided by Rachel Despres (top) and Aisha Stambouli.