Winter Puppy Care

With temperatures dipping and much of the nation locked in Winter Storm Cleon, the next few days may be a challenge for people parenting new puppies. Puppy owners will need to be aware that their puppy will need a little special attention to stay warm, happy, healthy and safe this winter. Follow these helpful tips to keep your puppy at her best during the cold months ahead.

No matter how bad the weather is, puppies have lots of energy and need exercise.  The challenge is that warm weather breeds, such as chihuahuas, yorkies and Italian Miniature Greyhounds, are intolerant to cold temperatures. Arctic breeds, such as Malamutes, Huskies and Saint Bernards, can manage cold temperatures better, but across the board, puppies are more sensitive to cold than adults and can develop hypothermia and frostbite quickly.

During cold weather, keep walks frequent and short, and put a sweater on short haired puppies. If your schedule can allow, 4-5 15 minute walks is ideal. Keep your eyes open for shivering, which is the first sign of hypothermia.  If you puppy is shivering, wrap your puppy is warm towels straight from the dryer.  Keep a look out for frostbite as well. Frost bitten skin on pets and people is red and painful, and is more likely to occur on the webbing in between the toes, or on the tip of the ears. If you suspect frostbite, soak the affected area in warm, not hot, water for 15-20 minutes and call your veterinarian.

Antifreeze has a sweet taste dogs adore but it is toxic enough to cause serious illness and even death from kidney failure. Make sure your car isn’t leaking any fluids and keep containers safely locked away.

If you live in the city, then your pet’s paws are exposed to salt and other harsh DE-icing chemicals, which can leave those toes chapped. Boots are a great option to keep your dog’s paws clean, dry and safe from harsh chemicals and frost. Most dogs can be easily trained to wear boots.

If the weather is just too cold or inclement to go out, hard chew toys can help your puppy burn off excess energy, reduce the pain from teething, and save your furniture. If you have the space, indoor fetch is a great game as well.

House breaking is the same in winter weather as it is in warm weather with a few exceptions. Never leave your puppy unattended during winter weather. If you are experienced extended inclement weather, consider training your puppy to go on pads which can be purchased at your local pet supply store. Then, when the weather improves, you can move the pads outside to help your transition your puppy to doing his or her business outside.  To encourage your puppy to go outside, keep the potty area shoveled and free of snow.

Puppies have a high caloric need for growth and development, and they need extra calories during the winter to help them stay warm. Offer 5-10% additional food to help provide these needed calories.

Many people in America and throughout the world keep their dogs outdoors only. This practice is viewed by some as being cruel or unusual.  Until recently, dogs worldwide have been primarily outdoor pets. Canines (Canis lupus familiaris) are direct descendants of wolves. Our modern day dogs have been selectively breed over the last 15-30 thousand years to meet our needs as domestic pets and companions. Many dogs actually prefer the outdoors and this is perfectly acceptable as long as the dog has safe, warm dry shelter.

In colder climates, you may want to consider a dog house heater to keep your dog’s house at a comfortable temperature. A dog house heater will prevent him or her from becoming a casualty of the cold  winter nights. You can buy heated dog houses from various websites and they range in price and quality.

These tips should help your puppy to stay safe and happy during the winter.