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Top 5 Tips for Cold Dogs and Winter Weather

cold dog yorkie

Geez – I’m cold!

It’s freezing across the country and most people are huddled up inside. So what should we do with our dogs? Clearly they still need exercise and have to “do business”, so when is it too cold for them?

1. Identify Your Dog’s Susceptibility

There are many different factors in determining a dog’s resistance to cold. According to Dr. Susan Whiton and Dr. Sophia Yin: “The animal’s ability to tolerate really cold weather depends on age, nutritional status, health and coat density.”

cold dog - husky

This Freezing Weather Is Awesome!!!

Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences has stated “it is clinically accepted that indoor pets that are not acclimated to cold weather should not be left outside when the average daily temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Dogs that tend to do well in the cold include Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Chow Chows.

Dogs that are more susceptible to the cold are toy dogs (e.g. Yorkies) and dogs without hair (i.e. Chinese Crested) or do not have thick coats (e.g. Greyhounds).

If your dog is a puppy, very old or sick, you might want to consider using an Indoor Dog Potty or Wee-Wee Pads while the temperature is below 45 degrees.

2. Know the Signs of a Cold Dog

If your dog is shivering, whining, stops moving, starts looking for warm places to burrow or is in a curled position, it is probably too cold. When the weather is severely cold, take shorter walks. Don’t try to take your dog on the same length walks as during warmer weather. A shorter walk can still accomplish enough exercise and relief breaks without causing your dog (and you) to become too cold.
In regards to dogs that spend more time outside in the winter, according to Dr. Susan Whiton and Dr. Sophia Yin: “The dogs that are not doing well will have ice on their fur. It indicates that they are losing enough body heat to melt the snow. Because their coat is not insulating well more ice will build up making the hair less lofty and less insulating.”

3. Get a Dog Coat and/or Dog Boots

dog coatSweaters and Dog Coats can keep your pets warm. Make sure they fit correctly. They shouldn’t be too loose or too tight. Using a dog coat with good under carriage coverage will be very helpful for dogs with longer coats that more easily collect ice on their fur.

Dog boots and paw protectants (e.g. Musher’s) can protect your dog’s paws from the cold and salt. After a walk outside, check to make sure any salt or antifreeze products are removed from paws or fur. To remove any snow from a dog’s coat, use a towel or hairdryer.

Let's Play Indoors!

Let’s Play Indoors!

4. Play Indoors

If it’s too cold for your dog outside, then make sure to spend more play time with your dog indoors. If your dog is a fan of fetch – this is probably really easy – just keep throwing a ball down a hallway. My dog isn’t a super fan of fetch, but if I do it with treats, he’s happy to play fetch indoors.

You can try teaching your dog tricks or play some of their other favorite games to keep them active during the winter. If they need more exercise, consider organizing a doggy play date or taking your dog to a doggie daycare so they can play with other dogs.

5. Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

If your dog is spending a lot of time outside (e.g. they’re a Siberian Husky), then you probably need to increase their food consumption.

If your dog is spending more time indoors, you probably need to somewhat reduce their food intake.

 

 

 

Dematting Your Dog

dematting

Many dogs have the issue of getting their hair or fur tangled. This is especially true for non-shedding dogs, e.g. Havanese, Maltese, Shih Tsu and some Terrier breeds. If it doesn’t get brushed regularly, this can result in mats. So what should you do when you realize your dog’s fur is matted?

First thing to do is assess how badly your dog’s fur is matted. Also consider the weather/season is outside. Perhaps it’s winter and you’d rather keep your dog’s hair longer for protection from the elements or if it’s summer you and your dog might be better off to take him to the groomer to have a short haircut and groom.

If you think this is something you could tackle and your dog can handle, then here are our tips and suggestions:

1. Realize it will probably take a few sessions or days to properly demat your dog’s coat. We do not recommend you try to do it all in one session. Of course your groomer will do it in one session, but that probably explains why my dog hates going to the groomer. To keep the peace with your dog, I would break up the grooming sessions.

Dematting Comb

Dematting Comb

2. Make sure you have the right tools. We recommend a dematting comb, a regular dog brush, a slicker brush and a comb (e.g. Fine/Coarse Steel Greyhound Comb). I use these various tools on my dog (a Havanese). You might also consider getting some detangling spray made for dogs.

3. Make sure you have the right treats. Some dogs are more sensitive than others. Some dogs enjoy getting groomed and others don’t. Regardless, dematting can hurt the dog at times – we’ll show you how to avoid it, but it can happen. So we recommend that you have your dog’s favorite treats on hand so you can reward him through the process.

Greyhound Comb

Greyhound Comb

4. Determine where you are going to groom your dog. I would recommend a place where your dog is comfortable, but can’t easily escape. I groom Kobi in our living room on a high countertop. He’s comfortable enough because it’s the living room, but it’s also high enough that he won’t jump down and escape.

5. Is your dog dirty? If your dog needs a bath, definitely do this before you do a dematting session. It’s going to be more work if you have to extract both dirt and hair mats. Sometimes it might be easier to try to demat your dog right after a bath, but it really depends on their fur/hair and your dog’s personality. My dog goes a bit nuts after a bath so it’s not a great time to groom him.

6. Lightly brush your dog’s coat all over his body. It might help to use some detangling spray before you brush your dog’s hair, but it really depends on your dog’s hair/fur. When you’ve completed this step, you’ll know how badly your dog is matted and where the problem spots are.

Master Grooming Tools Stainless Steel Soft Slicker Brush

Slicker Brush

7. Mentally break up your dog’s hair problem spots into various sections.
For example, with my dog I typically break up the areas I need to work on as follows:
– Ears – matted near the opening of the ear canal, but my dog loves to have his ears/ear area brushed
– Tail – less sensitive and easier to brush out because the hair is coarser
– Belly – super sensitive, but often not that matted
– Chest – can be really matted, but less sensitive than belly
– Paws – not typically that matted, but he hates to have his paws touched
– Underarms – probably not the scientific name, but hopefully you understand. This is where you’ll find a LOT of matting. Unfortunately for Kobi, this is also a sensitive area.

dog anatomy

Dog Anatomy

Your dog may have different areas that are sensitive or less sensitive or matted. Regardless, break up the list of “to do” areas – you don’t want to tackle all the sensitive areas at once.

8. Where do you start?
Some groomers and breeders state that you should start at the bottom and basically create a line in the dog’s hair and work your way up.
We find that to be really time consuming and doesn’t really take into consideration where your dog’s sensitive spots are. For example, our dog Kobi would freak out if we started at the bottom of his belly or paws which are his super sensitive areas. As such, we recommend starting where your dog is less sensitive and enjoys being brushed (for Kobi it would be his ear area).
Then mix it up between sensitive and less sensitive spots, as well as, spots that are easier to brush and more difficult.

9. How to brush / which tools to use?
Any person that has had relatively long hair will understand the golden rule that you don’t pull hair (or fur). If there is a tangle, you need to hold the hair at the root (so it doesn’t hurt) and then brush/comb through the tangle. This is also the golden rule when it comes to brushing / dematting your dog.

Dematting

spraying detangling spray on the matted area

As mentioned before, first start with an overall light brushing. Don’t force any tangles. Consider using detangling spray. Then do your mental break up of your dog’s body and problem areas and assess what would be easiest to start with.

For example, I’ll start combing Kobi’s ears with the greyhound comb using the wider prongs. When I get to a matted area, I’ll hold his hair at the roots/base and then use the dematting comb. When Kobi has relatively few tangles around his ear area, then I’ll switch to using the fine prongs on the greyhound comb and/ or the slicker brush.

Dematting

insert dematting comb into mat, hold hair at the roots and then pull away from the dog

When using the dematting comb, it’s easier to start with a smaller area of the matted fur. Hold the base of the hair and then put the prongs in the matt, sharp edges away from the dog and then pull away from the matt and your dog. If you properly hold your dog’s hair, it will not hurt them.

If it’s a really large mat, start with a smaller area of the mat using the dematting comb and intermittently use the slicker brush which will help take out the matted hair leaving you a cleaner and easier smaller mat to tackle. Remember to hold your dog’s hair at the root/base as much as possible so you don’t pull their hair/fur. To the left is an example of us taking out a mat from Bootsie – a very cute Tibetan Terrier.

10. Break up the locations on where you are grooming/brushing/combing your dog

dog grooming 3

I’m mat free now!

I typically start with Kobi’s ears and head. Next I will brush or comb his back which is sensitive but generally doesn’t have too many mats. I’ll ignore any mats that might be on his back and move on to his tail. Afterwards I’ll go back to a matted area on his body, then back to an unmated area.

In between zones, I’ll make sure to give your dog treats and verbal approval (i.e. “good dog”).

The first time you do this with your dog, you might want to set a time limit (e.g. 10 mins). You can repeat the process each day until your dog’s coat is dematted.

Top LED Dog Collars – easily see your dog at night

LED Dog Collars

Orvis Safety Light & Glowdoggie

As the days are getting shorter, we thought it was a good time to update our LED Dog Collar recommendations.  The LED Dog Collar is a must have for any dog owner that takes their dog out at night. Not only can you better see your dog, but so can others! Wearing a dog collar light can be a great safety device and life saver.

Based on our tests, these are the Top 2 LED Dog Collars on the market that we think you’ll love. We tried to get better pictures of our own dogs with the LED Dog Collars on, but it was a challenge with it being dark outside and the dogs’ non-compliance in staying still.

Orvis Safety Light

Orvis LED Dog CollarThe Orvis Safety Light is waterproof, impact resistant, and visible up to 3 miles away. Best of all, the Orvis LED safety light fastens anywhere on your dog’s collar via a clip or hook-and-loop strap (both included). It’s like a mini flashlight on your dog’s collar. We’ll not only use this on dog walks at night, but also when we have power outages (like during Hurricane Sandy). We might even take it on a late night run.

Orvis Safety LightThe light is easily turned on by simply rotating the lens. It has both steady and flash modes. To switch from steady light to flash, just flip the battery to change the function. Allegedly, this is the light that Danish search-and-rescue teams rely on to keep their dogs visible in dark and dangerous conditions.

The light comes in clear (white), red and amber colors. It is a 100,000-hour bulb with a 250-hour battery life and weighs less than 1 oz. Being small and compact, it’s great for travel, especially since you can easily take it on and off.

Glowdoggie LED Dog Collar

Glowdoggie in green

Glowdoggie LED Dog Collar

We were impressed how bright the Glowdoggie Classic is! It’s the brightest all-around dog collar we’ve seen on the market and it’s not annoyingly bright either. Glowdoggie also makes an Ultra version which is about 50% brighter and can also run on rechargeable AAAs if desired.

The Glowdoggie (aka Leuchtie) is made and engineered in Germany. You can immediately tell it is made of robust, durable, quality components. It’s also 100% waterproof (your dog can go swimming in it) and comes with a 2 year warranty. The Glowdoggie has been tested in all types of extreme climates, from the Arctic Circle to the Western Australian Desert, and it’s used by many SAR teams around the U.S..

Glowdoggie

Fiesta tests the Glowdoggie

The Glowdoggie is unique in that it’s not actually a collar. It’s a flexible ring that you slip over your dog’s head and as such you need to order it in a specific size for it to fit your dog, i.e. there’s no way to adjust the size of the ring. There is no need to open the ring, except for changing the AAA batteries. The Glowdoggie should be used in addition to your dog’s normal collar. A nylon strap is included if you prefer to attach the Glowdoggie to your dog’s collar.

Fiesta has been using the Glowdoggie for over a year and loves it (so does her “daddy”, Luis).

Glowdoggie LED Dog CollarThere is no on/off switch on the Glowdoggie, instead, it’s turned on when the battery portion is facing down (as it is in the photo on the right) and gradually turns off when it is in the up position. Luckily there are plenty of instructional and product demonstration videos on the Glowdoggie website. The battery life is 100 hours. The Glowdoggie Classic + comes in six different colors (green, blue, aqua, red, white and pink).

Hot Weather Tips for Your Dog

summer dog

It’s great to spend time with your dog outside. Just remember to take some simple precautions to help prevent your dog from overheating during the hot weather. Here are our Hot Weather Tips for Your Dog:

Hydrate

Make sure to bring water with you – not just for yourself, but also for your dog. Check out these water bottles for dogs.

Shade

Look for a shady place for your dog so they can get out of the sun and cool down.
water bottle

Street Smarts

When the temperature is high, don’t let your dog walk on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your dog’s body can heat up quickly, and its sensitive paw pads can burn.

Not sure if it’s hot? Well if it’s too hot for your foot, it’s probably too hot for your dogs. Press the back of your hand firmly against the asphalt for 7 seconds to verify it will be comfortable for your dog. The last thing anyone wants is for your dog to burn his paws.

ruffwear cooling coat

cooling coat

If you live in an area where the ground is always scorching hot, consider getting your dog some dog booties for hot weather.

Exercise

Try to exercise dogs in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower. If your dog quickly overheats, you might want to try out a cooling coat.

Water Activities

Dogs, like people, often love to get wet when it’s hot outside. Make sure to introduce your dog to water gradually and don’t leave them unsupervised around a pool as not all dogs are good swimmers and they should not drink pool water, which can be toxic.

Summer dogDogs should wear a flotation device when on boats (just like us humans do). Never take your dog to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of fresh water for them to drink. Consider having your dog wear doggles to protect their eyes.

Remember to rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from their coat.

Sunscreen

sunscreen for dogsSunburn is a hazard for pets who spend time outdoors. Use a pet-safe sunscreen to protect your dog from the sun’s harming rays, which can cause skin cancer especially of the ears and nose. Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog – the layers of dogs coats can protect them from sunburn.

Warning Signs

If you find your dog excessively panting or just not wanting to exercise or walk as they normally would, your dog might be overheating. Try to get them out of the sun and preferably in an air conditioned room asap.

Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car!!!

NEVER leave your animals (or children) alone in a parked vehicle. A parked car can become an oven and easily lead to fatal heat stroke for pets and children. Please keep them at home if you can’t bring them with you.

Now that you have the tips – go outside with your best friend and enjoy a great, safe summer!