For many of us, the cold weather is reaching its peak this time of year. Time to pull down the sweaters, put on the gloves and get those shovels ready! Now is also the time to make sure your dog is prepared for the chilly days ahead. To help, DogWatch has put together a list of 5 cold weather safety tips for dog owners.

1. Bundle Up

Small brown poodle mix in a red coat in the snow
Sure, dogs in sweaters may look silly to some, but doggie outerwear is recommended for certain dogs in the fall and winter months. They include:

  • Short-coated dogs like Greyhounds and Whippets
  • Toy breeds like Chihuahuas, Yorkies and French Bulldogs,
  • Dogs with short-cropped coats, including many Poodles and Terriers.
  • Puppies, senior dogs or dogs with serious medical issues can also be particular susceptible to the cold weather

Investing in a well-fitted sweater or coat can help you and your dog enjoy your walks more by keeping him safe, warm and dry.  Make sure it isn’t too tight that it restricts movement or too loose that he’ll trip over it.

In contrast, some dogs are built for the winter weather, with a thick double coat of fur to keep their bodies warm. Think Newfoundlands, Huskies, Saint Bernards and other breeds. These breeds do NOT need a winter coat – they’re already got one! The extra insulation of a thick sweater or dog coat could actually cause them to overheat, so let them go out au naturel.

2. Protect Those Paws

dog paws in snow

Dogs’ paws are naturally thick and leathery and offer some protection against hard surfaces and the elements, but winter weather can be too much for many puppy paws. Salt, sand, snow, ice, and de-icing chemicals can cause dry paws, cracking, irritation, injury, and even infection.

Cloth or rubber dog booties are a great way to protect your dog’s paws and prevent slipping, yet not all dogs will tolerate them. In that case, another option is a paw wax like Musher’s Secret, which forms a protective coating over the paws and protects them from direct contact with harmful surfaces or chemicals. For DIY types, check out this at-home recipe for paw wax from the Newfoundland Club of America.

When you get back inside, make sure to thoroughly clean off your pup’s paws to remove all traces of the balm and any debris or chemicals your pup may have picked up on your walk. This will keep your dog from licking his paws and potentially getting sick, and will also keep the paws dry and warm.

3. Exercise and Food Check

Husky dog on couch with woman
The arrival of cold weather also means that your dog may be spending more time indoors. This is especially true for the thinner coated dogs mentioned earlier, as well as puppies and elderly dogs. You will want to make sure that they are still getting a healthy amount of exercise, though, so set aside some time for indoor play each day.

If your dog is one of the cold weather breeds that doesn’t mind the cold (like the Husky above), they may enjoy playing outside, but it will require more energy to do so. For these breeds, you may want to increase their food for the winter months, especially if they spend part of the day outside. Check with your vet to find out if you need to make any changes to your dog’s diet.

4. Watch Out For the Ice

small dog walking on ice

Be careful when walking in icy areas – for your sake and your dog’s! In particular, older or arthritic pets can be more prone to slipping, which could result in a significant injury. Picking up some pet-friendly ice melt (i.e. salt-free, available at most pet stores and home supply stores) is great idea to help clear a safe path for your pooch.

If you have an active dog that like nature hikes, there’s no need to stop during winter, just be careful around bodies of water. That ice may look thick enough to support your pup, but the possibility of a break is one that’s too serious to risk.

5. Check Your Fence

dog in snow

If you have a DogWatch Hidden Fence installed, we suggest a quick pre-winter fence checkup. Make sure driveway and walkway cuts are sealed and that no wire is exposed that might be damaged by snow plows or shovels. Also, if you have had a recent yard clean-up or aeration, check your transmitter to make sure the wire has not been accidentally cut.

If you have questions about your DogWatch system, check out our Customer Resources page or contact your local DogWatch Dealer. And if you do not have a hidden fence but are looking to install one soon, give your local DogWatch Dealer a call. Most are available year-round, and they will work with you to find a weather-permitting date to install and begin training.


Do you have any additional winter safety tips to share? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page. Stay warm and don’t forget to have fun!


Photo Credits
PLUTO-SNOW-0006” by Tarun Sundersingh (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Tata on ice” by chripell (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo of Trilly the Golden Retriever in the snow from DogWatch of Cape Cod via Facebook