Winter Pet Care Guide

Winter Pet Care Guide

Published on January 27, 2024


Ensuring your pet's well-being in the face of winter's chill is crucial. While the task of keeping your dog warm outdoors during low temperatures may seem daunting, fear not. The Smack Family aims to debunk common myths surrounding winter dog care.

Dogs' paw pads get freezer burn in winter.

It's partially true that dogs' paw pads can get burned in winter. The paw's temperature remains balanced as warm blood reaches the surface, preventing frostbite and maintaining the animal's body heat, a mechanism known as a counter-current heat exchanger. This phenomenon was first identified in dogs by Ninomiya and colleagues at Yamazaki Gakuen University in Tokyo.


Despite this natural adaptation, pet owners should be attentive to their dogs' paws in winter, particularly concerning the common addition of salt to sidewalks. Small granules may become lodged between their toes or fur, prompting dogs to lick their feet to remove them. Some dogs may even enjoy the taste of salt and consume it from the pavement. While salt typically causes mild irritation and dry or cracked paw pads, ingesting salt or ice melt products can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, increased salivation, or a poor appetite.

Dogs do not need to exercise in winter.

Myth, it's vital to keep dogs active during winter, just like in summer. Regular walks, at least two or three times a day, help maintain an ideal body condition score, prolonging their life. Adequate preparation for the cold and keeping them well-hydrated are key.

Dogs do not get cold in winter.

It is partially true that some dog breeds can tolerate colder temperatures better than others. It's important to understand your dog's tolerance for cold weather. Huskies are a breed that can handle colder temperatures and are able to go for longer walks in the cold. However, smaller or short-haired breeds may not be able to tolerate icy weather. Pups with compromised immune systems may also be more vulnerable to low temperatures and require closer monitoring.

During cold weather, there are no fleas or ticks.

Dispelling the myth that cold weather eliminates fleas and ticks, these bugs linger at ground level or hidden in homes. Natural repellents like rosemary and apple cider vinegar, coupled with frequent brushing, can repel these pests.

How to keep your dog warm and active this winter? 

  • If necessary, have your dog wear boots to shield against sidewalk salt and potential irritation in cold weather.
  • Remember, if you're cold, your dog is likely cold too. Dogs with thin or short hair benefit from wearing a parka for warmth during walks.
  • Exercise your dog indoors using toys and mental challenges to tire them out.
  • Provide a healthy diet tailored to your dog's biology for a strengthened immune system, reducing the risk of health problems in your furry companion.