Caring for your dog all year round
Your dog loves to have fun all through the year – whether it’s raining, snowing, or sunny BBQ weather, they’re always ready to play and explore with you right beside them! Just like you, though, their needs will be different according to the weather and the time of year, especially if you’re going to an outdoor event, celebration, or other busy place together.
Cold weather and winter dog care
When it’s chilly, protecting dogs’ feet during exercise is important. Once you've been out in the cold with your dog, take care to remove any packed snow or ice from between the toes of their paw pads.
Wipe their paws thoroughly too, as sometimes moisture can be trapped and cause sores.
Salt and other de-icers that are spread on footpaths and roads may also irritate the pads and cause bleeding, so be sure to look out for them.
Short-haired dogs, older dogs and dogs with health problems will appreciate it if you buy them a dog jacket for when they go outside, especially when it’s chilly.
- Your dog’s natural curiosity means they aren’t afraid of tasting new things – as you’ve probably noticed! Because of its sweet taste, many dogs are attracted to antifreeze.
- Because of this, many dogs may lap up antifreeze if they can access it. Antifreeze is highly toxic and fatal if ingested, so store it out of reach of your dog in winter.
- If by any chance your canine friend does come into contact with antifreeze, or anything else they shouldn’t, go straight to your vet.
- Dogs can suffer from frostbite if they become extremely cold – your vet will be able to tell you more.
- In general, frostbitten skin may appear grey or even black in colour, and it will be cold to the touch.
- If you’re worried that your dog has frostbite, it’s natural to want to help them as soon as possible – but don’t rub any frozen tissue as it will cause additional tissue damage.
- Again, if you’re worried about frostbite or your dog’s condition during winter, just go straight to your vet for help.
Your dog in the cold
- Well-nourished dogs in winter are better prepared for the cold, particularly if they spend a lot of time outdoors.
- If your dog loves to be outside, consider giving them a little more food to ensure they have the energy to cope with the cold.
- Dogs that spend a lot of time inside require less food to stay warm in winter and maintain a good body condition than dogs that spend a lot of time outside.
- Check with your vet to see how much extra energy dogs need for the winter months.
- If your dog has a bowl of water outside, freezing water might be an issue; just remember to replace it several times during the day so they don’t get thirsty.
- You can even buy an electrically heated water bowl, particularly in countries with very cold winters; it’s a good idea to check regularly in case of freezing anyway, for both your peace of mind.
- Your dog likes to be warm and cosy in the winter, just like you. If your dog has a shelter outside, it should be insulated, elevated, protected from prevailing winds and watertight.
- It's natural to want to give your dog space, but their outdoor shelter should be small enough to preserve their body heat so they can keep nice and warm. Remember to provide plenty of bedding!
- Warm weather means even more opportunities for you and your dog to have fun outside together. However, just like you, as temperatures soar dogs in summer become more vulnerable to heat stress.
- Remember that maintaining a comfortable environment for your dog is important; it’s also very easy! For example, provide plenty of cool, fresh water and shade to help them keep cool.
- Your dog can’t step into a pair of sunglasses and a sunhat, so you have to keep an eye on their sun protection instead! Monitor them regularly to make sure they’re happy.
- Your dog benefits from sun protection as much as you do – ask your vet about your particular breed and the sun protection they might benefit from.
- For example, pet sun creams are available for hot days, so protect your canine friend with the right sun cream before setting off for the day – again, ask your vet what kind you need.
- Don’t use human products on dogs, as they might not be effective or could even cause damage.
- The more vulnerable areas on your dog include the nose and ears, and these can be susceptible to sun burn.
- White dogs are especially vulnerable when it comes to sunburn, especially their ears and noses, and they will need a higher factor dog sun screen.
- You love grooming your dog as much as they enjoy it, but bear in mind that dogs that have recently had their coats trimmed short are particularly vulnerable to burning and heat stress.
Your dog and the heat
- Your dog, just like you, can suffer from heat stroke. Heat stroke in dogs can develop rapidly with exposure to high temperatures, humidity and poor ventilation.
- Symptoms to look out for include panting, a staring or anxious expression, failure to respond to commands, warm, dry skin, extremely high temperature, dehydration, rapid heartbeat and collapse.
- Puppies and elderly dogs in summer tend to be more susceptible, as do adult dogs recently moved from a cooler climate.
- Dogs with thick, heavy coats or dogs with an existing cardiovascular or respiratory condition can be affected too.
- Certain breeds with narrow airways, such as bulldogs, are particularly prone to heat stress.
- If you’re worried about any form of heat stress, the best course of action is always to seek prompt veterinary attention, helping you to avoid potential complications.
- Going for a day out this summer? County and agricultural shows normally have good provisions for dogs, making them a great trip.
- On the other hand, some big outdoor events don’t – just check before you go. Your dog will need water, shade and a resting place if it’s hot!
- Before you head off, consider whether this is the right sort of environment for your dog – every dog is different.
- If your dog is travelling with you on holiday, you might want to check out our article on heatstroke in dogs to find out why car travel is best avoided.
Whatever the time of year, seasonal celebrations are another challenge for your dog, whether they find all the activity exciting or scary! Read our article on dogs, fireworks and parties to find out how to get your dog safely through Christmas, birthdays, Guy Fawkes Night and other events.
Warm weather and dogs in summer
To ensure that your dog doesn’t get tired out during the summer, avoid exercising your dog too much when it’s really hot – for instance during hot days or warm, humid nights.
The best time to exercise dogs in summer is either early in the morning or late in the evening. This is particularly important for dogs with thick, heavy coats and lots of long hair.
Take it easy by avoiding taking them out in the middle of the day, and avoid vigorous exercise for all dogs in hot, humid weather.
Now your dog is prepared for the rest of the year, you can get on with enjoying your time together!