7 ways to spoil your best friend this winter

If you’re feeling the cold, so are your furry friends! Keep them warm, cosy and healthy this winter with these tips.

By Lana Hallowes

If your dog is inside and cuddled under a blanket, instead of outside and barking at the postie, it must be cold! 

Despite having a fur coat (which thickens as the temperature drops), dogs can still feel the chill of winter. If you’re seeking warmth, your dog probably is too. 

Here’s how to keep your wet-nosed mate cosy and comfortable this winter:

1. Warm up your dog’s bed

For ‘independent sleepers’ - that is your dog has their own bed (rather than curling into you in the big one!) - you can warm up their bed with a heat pack. Just remove it before they jump in, so they don’t overheat or chew on it. 

Tossing a blanket or two over them will also make for a snuggly slumber.

If your dog is an outside sleeper, make sure their kennel is draft-free, under shelter and filled with extra warm bedding.

2. Keep up the grooming

Dog hair is thicker and longer during winter. If not brushed regularly, knots and matts can form. When this happens, clumps of tangled hair trap in moisture and block air flow to your dog’s coat, leading to skin irritation and sores.

The cool air can also cause dogs (just like us) to have dry and itchy skin.

But the solution to this is easy. In wintertime, keep up the bathing, brushing and grooming, even though you might think your dog is warmer without it. Doing so will keep your doggo’s coat healthy and this will help with natural insulation.

3. Rug them up

While winter in Australia isn’t winter in Austria, some dogs, especially those with short coats, really feel the cold. A cute doggie jumper or jacket is pawfect for them.

When choosing a coat for your dog, consider:  

  • Usage - some jackets are designed for wet weather and are waterproof, others are more for indoor comfort. Think about where your dog will wear it the most.
  • Warmth - puffer jackets and sherpa-lined coats are warm, but could be too warm for indoors. Two different coats - one for walkies and a light knit for inside is a good idea. 
  • Ease of dressing - some jackets are secured with velcro and can be adjusted for a snug fit, others have three holes for the head and arms to slip through. Which is easier to put on will depend on your dog.
  • Fashion - yes, doggie coats are a style thing. I learnt this recently when visiting my local Petstock store when shopping for a jacket for my little guy - there were leopard print ones, jackets with slogans like ‘security’ (lol), funky corduroy coats, cool puffer jackets and charming knits). What’s your dog’s style?!
Writer Lana Hallowes’s dog ‘Toffee’ looking smart in his winter coat.
  • Pee - if you have a male dog who loves marking his territory, then avoid a jacket which can get in the way! (This sound advice, as well as the above tips were given to me by the salesperson.)

4. Take them to exercise

Studies have shown that dog owners are almost 50 per cent less likely to walk their dogs when the weather gets cold (puts up hand). But we all know dogs need exercise to keep healthy and avoid gaining weight.

In wintertime, try to keep up the dog walks but make them longer if you are walking less often. 

Playing with your dog inside where they fetch, jump, tug and chase is also exercise. New toys are a fun way to inspire more indoor play. 

5. Create sun traps indoors

Dogs are sun bakers, but when it’s too cold to lie outside in their favourite spot, you’ll need to bring the warmth inside.

Plonk your dog’s bed, food and water bowl, along with some toys in a sun-drenched indoor posy and watch them happily discover it. 

Make sure you open curtains and adjust blinds to let those rays stream in!

6. Support their joints in the cold

Dogs get stiff and experience sore joints too, especially those in their golden years. 

You can help alleviate their discomfort in the cooler weather with regular exercise, good dietary habits and joint support

If you're not sure your dog needs joint support, chat to your vet and keep a lookout for the signs such as - limping and stiffness, loss of appetite. licking, chewing or biting the affected area, lethargy and irritability.

7. Beware of heaters! 

Heaters can be dangerous if dogs get too close or spend too long in front of them. Dehydration, overheating and burns from pawing or leaning up against heaters are just some things which can happen.

Watch your dog around heaters and never leave them home alone with one on. A cosy bed with warm blankets to snuggle under is safer.  

Wishing you and your waggy-tail-friend a snuggly winter.

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