Key Ways You Can Prepare Your Senior Dog for the Cold
The health, wellbeing and happiness of our canine companions is a top priority as a dedicated pet owner. As our dogs get older, taking care of them during the harsh winter months is very important. The cold weather can cause a host of problems for our furry friends, from weight changes, to aggravated skin conditions and stiff joints. Our pets can’t tell us when they feel uncomfortable and their natural instinct is to cover up pain. This is because pain equals weakness, which can threaten their status in the pack. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make your mature pooch feels as comfortable as possible during the winter. To get you started, here are 7 ways to prepare your senior dog for the cold.
Limit Their Outdoor Time
Exercising your senior dog is important all year round, as it will keep the weight off and keep their joints loose and flexible. It also provides mental and physical stimulation. Limiting an old dog’s outdoor time during the winter doesn’t mean that you should stop walking them; it just means that you need to make sure they don’t spend too much time in the cold, especially if it’s particularly icy or snowy outside. If you are walking them less, you need to provide alternative methods of exercise.
Adjust Their Diet Accordingly
If your dog does not cope well with winter walks and you are choosing to take them out less, then you will need to adjust their diet accordingly to reduce the risk of them gaining weight. This will make a senior dog very uncomfortable and increase the risk of them developing serious health conditions. If your mature pup comfortably spends a lot of time outside in the cold weather, then you should feed them more food, because they will burn a lot calories trying to keep themselves warm.
Look After Their Joints
It’s common for older dogs to experience joint issues, and during the colder months you may notice your dog struggle with their mobility and appear stiff and uncomfortable. The first step to looking after their joints is to add a dog supplement like YuMove to their diet. This will help maintain the cartilage structure and has the potential to slow cartilage deterioration and manage pain.
You should also give them short, regular walks, keep them warm, provide them with orthopaedic bedding and talk to a vet.
Find a Suitable Coat
Finding a suitable coat for an older dog is particularly important if they are lean, have short fur and/or bad joints. You should choose a coat that provides them with the right level of warmth, protects them from harsh weather conditions (like strong wind and heavy rain) and does not limit their mobility. If your dog has a naturally thick winter coat or has been bred to live in cold conditions, then there is no need to wrap up your mature pup.
Dry Ears and Paws
You do not need to purchase dog boots and ear muffs, but you should make an effort to keep your pooch’s ears and paws dry. If your dog likes to play in puddles and the snow, then drying their ears will reduce the risk of painful infections occurring. It is common for paws to crack during the cold, but moisturising and drying them after walks will stop this from happening. Massaging coconut oil into their paws before a walk will create a natural protective layer and will prevent irritation and dryness.
Invest in Thick Bedding
Central heating can strip your dog’s skin from natural moisture, as it emits dry heat into your home. This can lead to your senior dog experiencing dry, irritated and flaky skin. When you leave the house without your dog, you should provide them with thick bedding and natural methods of heat, rather than leave the central heating on for them. Soft, thick bedding will also support their joints and provide comfort as well as warmth. Extra blankets and heated dog beds can be a great addition too.
Brush More, Bathe Less
Brushing your pooch in the winter will remove the old fur, which will make plenty of room for a thicker, fuller winter coat to grow in. If your pet’s fur is clumpy or matted, then it will not insulate your senior dog well from the cold and it will take longer to dry if they get wet outside. As well as keeping your mature canine well-groomed, you should replace baths with moisturising dry shampoos and lotions. Too many baths will dry out their skin, as it strips away the natural oils that keeps them moisturised.
Preparing your senior dog for the cold is crucial. Their age, size, breed and health will determine how hard they will find the winter, but being equipped and doing what you can to protect them regardless is key to being a responsible pet owner.