Cold temperatures during winter can limit the your dog's opportunities
for outdoor exercise. Depending on the weather, however you and/or your
pet may still be able to get some outdoor exercise. Under such adverse
conditions a number of additional considerations should be made. Unless
precaution is taken, ice, salt, and sand can lead to paw abrasions. Dogs
with joint problems such as arthritis; especially older dogs, may be severely
impacted by the cold. For these dog's muscles and joints can seize and
Another consideration is to be aware when there is snow on the
ground, a dog may not be able to find the familiar scents and may become
disoriented or lost if not kept track of or on a leash. Another concern
of cold weather is keeping your pet dry. A wet pet can be susceptible to
hypothermia, and can get chilled quickly. Similarly, if a dog exercises
outdoors, its body temperature may drop rapidly when it stops, again making
it susceptible to chill or hypothermia. However, short periods of outdoor
exercise can be beneficial to a dog spending most of its day inside. When
winter temperatures drop to a frigid level unsafe for humans, most likely
it's too cold for canines as well.
Nonetheless, your dog will still need to stay active during
this time to maintain good health. Creating fun activities for your pet
will help keep him healthy and alert. A game of fetch, or a new toy may
be a simple solution. If space is limited make your dog do 'puppy pushups'
by telling him to sit and lay down repeatedly. If your pet does tricks
having him perform several times a day can help keep him active. Also,
consider taking your dog with you on errands. Most dogs are happiest by
their owner's side and this can break up the monotony of indoor winter
life. However, be sure not to leave your dog alone in a car when it's cold,
his temperature could drop rapidly, which is dangerous. It's common for
dogs to sleep more in the winter, grow in thicker coats, and gain a little
weight. If your dog gains more than a couple pounds consider reducing the
amount of food you're giving him to make up for the lack of activity. This
is also a good time for some extra grooming if his fur is getting thick.
With some special considerations your dog can stay happy and healthy during
bitter winter months.