Caring for your dog in cold weather

During the cold months of winter, it's important to remember the extra care your dog needs to stay warm and happy

As the air turns chilly, it's important to consider extra care for our dogs on cold days. Dogs need to be kept warm, particularly when out walking. Any ice and snow can be painful on paws, while grit and salt can cause real irritation.

Outdoor exercise and play 

Of course, this is essential for dogs’ physical and mental health, but there are definitely a few things worth bearing in mind as the temperature drops.

  • Some breeds cope better than others in cold weather. Generally, large thick-coated dogs such as Siberian Huskies and Newfoundlands thrive on a chilly day, whereas thinner-coated dogs, for example, Weimeramers, Vizslas, and Greyhounds, feel the cold much more
  • Healthy adult dogs are better at regulating their body temperature than very young or old dogs, or those which have health problems

Dog coats

Depending on your dog's age, health and breed, the point at which your dog will benefit from a coat will vary. Some dogs will need them to keep warm on just slightly chilly days, whereas for other breeds, they won't need one until the mervury drops below freezing - or at all. Take your dog with you if you can when you're buying them a coat; most retailers will be happy to let you try on coats for size. A good coat should protect a dog from the neck to the base of the tail and the tummy area.

Cold weather paws

Some people buy special bootees for their dogs, but this isn’t usually necessary unless your dog has a problem with their paws. Do always inspect your dog's paws and pads carefully, look out for grazes, red marks or anything that looks different, and if you are concerned, call your vet - or if you're a Kennel Club Pet Insurance customer the Pet Health Helpline (details below) - for advice. 

To help prevent sore paws during cold walks, you can use petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, as a barrier on the pads of the feet. Put this on before you leave the house ensuring the dog doesn’t lick it, and wash it off with lukewarm water when you get home. Washing your dog’s paws when you get home will also get rid of any grit or salt that has accumulated that could cause discomfort and pain. When the weather is really cold, short walks are better, so your dog doesn't get too cold.

Always remember that radiator coolant and anti-freeze are highly toxic. Always keep these sealed and out of reach - and if you spill any, then make sure the area is thoroughly cleaned before letting your dog near it.

With a Kennel Club Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.