Spending the winter months with your dog can be a blast, but it’s important to protect each other. With that in mind, let’s set the record straight on some myths about dogs and winter.
Myth #1: Their Fur Keeps Them Warm
It’s true that not all fur coats are created equally. Some, like a Golden Retriever’s, are better at protecting themselves from the cold than, say, a dachshund.
And some fur coats simply suck.
But just because your dog has a thick coat of fur doesn’t mean he’s immune to extreme weather conditions like hypothermia and frostbite. If your dog is small, it’s a good idea to get a coat for your pup. But here’s another myth to dispel: just because you’re a larger dog doesn’t mean you won’t look fabulous in a winter jacket.
Myth #2: Dogs Can Eat All The Snow!
Ew, dog! Grosssss.
I’m not going to lie. The snow looks delicious. Crunchy, fresh, smooth. But the general rule of “avoid yellow snow” should be modified (even though yellow snow tastes great) because your dog should avoid eating any kind of snow.
Snowfall obscures garbage and other animal waste, not to mention chemicals and salt. Your pup (and you) can get sick from ingesting any of these. Ideal for your dog to stick to tap water. But obviously, like, the finest tap water from the finest establishment.
Myth #3: Dogs Don’t Need As Much Water In Winter
Even though it’s the end of winter, I still managed to sweat through my entire shirt this morning on my subway ride. So when my coworkers are like, “Hey, how are you?” I can respond with this cheerful answer:
Why did I share this disgusting personal anecdote? To prove a point: all of us – dogs included – are dehydrated and thirsty, even in winter. With cold weather comes dry weather, plus dogs lose much of their body moisture by panting and breathing heavily (which, yes, I was doing on the subway too. Do you even need to ask?).
While it may seem counterintuitive, make sure to keep your pup well hydrated, especially before and after physical activities.
And if you’re a subway sweater like me, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. It’s just awkward and wet all over until the summer rolls around. And then we keep sweating in that sauna. I mean subway. (I mean sauna.)
Myth #4: If Your Dog Poops In The Snow, You Can Just Let It Go
If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably experienced it: frolicking on the cool green grass to welcome the wonderful warm weather of spring… only to be greeted by a rock-hard, icy turd from three months ago. He’s a mean poop @$$. literally.
Many people assume (or wildly hope) that dog waste will just melt away with the snow. You know, like magic. Poop magic.
Unfortunately, these people are wrong. The cold weather delays the biodegradation process, making these poops very strong ‘n’ robust. This is both gross and problematic, as old fecal matter attracts bacteria and rodents and serves as a vessel for disease.
No matter how cold it is, pick up that poop. Everyone will be better for it.
Myth #5: You Don’t Have To Worry About Fleas And Ticks
Unlike most pests, fleas and ticks find comfort in a warm shelter during the cold winter months. This often means that those dirtbags are IN YOUR HOME.
With this happy thought in mind, don’t slack off on those routine flea and tick inspections. If your pup has fleas or ticks, all that extra itching can do even more damage to his already dry skin.
Myth #6: Paw Protection Is Only Necessary For Longer Walks
Sure, dog booties and paw wax are annoying to put on. That’s a myth we won’t dispel. But even if the struggle is real, the struggle is also worth it, because the dog’s paws have resurfaced a lot during the winter. Just by walking around, dogs are at risk for frostbite and injury, not to mention the harmful salt that is on almost every surface. The salt causes a reaction that burns your pup’s paws. Plus, dogs can absorb harmful chemicals and anti-freeze through their paw pads.
As a general rule, always use protection. ha. Get it?
Myth #7: Dogs Don’t Need Your Help Getting Rid of Excess Snow
After a playful fight in the snow, your dog is often covered in extra snow, which has attached itself to his fur. Sometimes it looks harmless, and sometimes it literally looks like your dog has grown a butt full of balls. And while your dog will make moves to remove the snow himself, it’s not the best idea.
All this licking, chewing, and gnawing is harmful to their skin, especially in winter (when it is already drier than normal). Instead, you should get out the extra snow chunks. You can pick them up yourself or soak your dog in a quick, warm bath, which often loosens the snow chunks enough to fall right off. BONUS: Your dog won’t follow as much snow water around the house. (Although the same can’t be said for you.)
So get out there and take a big bite out of winter (but not literally – see Myth #2 – just enjoy this gif).
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