A Vet's Favorite Things For Winter

Are you ready for the cold weather? Learn what items a vet recommends for wintertime to make sure your furry friends are safe and cozy.

Courtney Elliott

Updated November 28, 2022 • Published November 28, 2022

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A Vet's Favorite Things For Winter

If you live somewhere that sees all four seasons, you're no stranger to the potential wrath of winter. Icy sidewalks, freezing temperatures, and the occasional blizzard are just a few of the not-so-fun things that cozy season brings about.

As you swap out your sundresses for sweaters and haul out those holiday decorations, think of your four-legged friend. Pets also have to deal with the challenges that come with cold weather, and if you're not prepared, it can result in injury, illness, and an expensive trip to the vet.

It can be hard to know exactly what you need, so you might starting asking yourself things like: Does my dog need a winter coat? Are booties really necessary?

We chatted with Yui Shapard, BVM&S, MRCVS and Medical Director at Pawp to get to the bottom of it.

A vet's favorite things for winter

The items you'll need will largely depend on your pet's breed, behavior, and any existing health issues. It's important to remember that when it comes to dogs, some are sensitive to the cold while others are not.

1. Jacket or sweater

Breeds that are sensitive to the cold—generally, dogs with very short or minimal coats, as well as those without much of an undercoat—will benefit from a jacket or sweater, especially in areas that go below freezing.

Keep in mind that not all dogs will need a jacket or sweater during the wintertime. Breeds like Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Great Pyrenees will likely not need much when it comes to winter gear.

"Those who are not sensitive to the cold have plenty of undercoat to keep their body warm. If these breeds of dogs wear layers of clothing, it can cause overheating and discomfort," explains Dr. Shapard.

2. Booties

While many dogs do not like this, getting them used to booties to protect their paws from ice and salt is also a good idea. The salt sprinkled on the ground can cause paw pad irritation, dermatitis, and in severe cases, ulcers. 

3. Paw balm

Keeping paws protected from snow and ice in the wintertime is key to preventing injury and irritation. Stock up on some paw balm before the weather gets bad so you have a remedy at the ready. This can also be a great solution for pups who refuse to wear booties.

"Paw balms like Musher's are a great alternative to booties or can be used as additional protection to keep paws free of ulcers and drying. It also works as a natural soothing relief when their paws become irritated from abrasions on the ground," says Dr. Shapard.

4. Pet-safe road salt

Choose a non-toxic, pet-safe ice melt product to prevent accidents and injury and create safer sidewalks for our furry friends. The rock salt that's often used on roads and sidewalks can be toxic and dangerous to pets if ingested and can also irritate paws.

During the wintertime, keep your eyes peeled for signs of rock salt toxicity, which include lethargy, vomiting, and excessive thirst.

5. Humidifier

Humidifiers help improve air quality, moisturize dry skin, and soothe allergies. Placing one of these in your pet's area can help make the challenges that come with cold weather a bit more bearable.

Keep in mind that you should not put essential oils in humidifiers or diffusers, and these should always be out of reach of your pet.

6. Interactive toys

It's not uncommon for pets to get less exercise during the winter when the weather isn't as dog park friendly. Make sure you have plenty of indoor distractions to keep your pup busy.

If you're not sure whether or not these items are appropriate for your pet, chat with a vet and they can help point you in the right direction. 

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