Keeping your dog warm this winter

With the mercury hovering above freezing and the nights still getting longer, winter is well underway, and the cold weather brings added responsibility for dog owners.

Because although your pooch will no doubt enjoy long walks on cold, frosty mornings and evenings relaxing by the fire, dogs require special care during the winter, especially if they're not adapted to chilly weather.

Therefore, whether you live in the frosty Scottish highlands or walk your pooch in chilly London parks there are a few considerations all dog owners should bear in mind this winter.

Although some dogs have thick coats and won't feel the cold as badly during winter, others aren't quite as well equipped to deal with the elements and might need extra insulation when out on walks.

If your pooch is short-haired or seems to shiver when outdoors, it's often a good idea to invest in a good quality dog coat, which should keep them snug and warm when out and about.

Speaking to the Dog Daily, New York vet Deb Eldredge pointed out that frostbite can affect dogs as well as humans, so pet owners should be aware of the symptoms during the winter months.

"The most common areas for frostbite are the ear tips, tail tips - especially if the tail is relatively hairless - and toes," she said. "The affected area will feel cold, may look white when you check the skin, and eventually will feel hard and dry. If you suspect frostbite, you need to contact your veterinarian right away."

If it's very icy outdoors or if your pooch has sensitive pads, then you may also want to consider buying them boots, as these will protect their paws on cold or rocky ground.

Some people assume that in cold weather dogs need to eat more as they need energy to stay warm. However, unless you've got a working dog that's out in harsh elements for significant periods of time, this isn't the case. Instead, just keep feeding your pooch the same amount of premium dog food and you should be fine.

Another good tip from Dr Eldredge is to remember to groom your dog regularly during the winter - especially if they have long hair or if their coats become matter easily - as a well-groomed dog has better insulation.

"Dogs whose coats get matted will have a harder time drying out after being out in snow and cold rain," she explained. "And we trim our dogs' feet, which may make them get cold a bit faster, but it reduces the amount of ice, snow and mud caught in the pad hair."

It's also important to make sure your pooch has warm, dry bedding in the house at all times and isn't left outdoors for long periods of time whenever the mercury drops.

And make sure that you're aware of the symptoms of hypothermia, so if your pooch does become unwell during the winter you are able to act quickly and seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

Written by: Hannah