Dogs’ wild ancestors, wolves, are perfectly adapted to their climate. Their fur is so well insulated, the snowflakes don’t even melt on their backs. Their legs are long and powerful, and they effortlessly run through the deepest snow. However, not all modern dogs were fortunate enough to inherit such snow-proof genes, and some could use a little help from owners.
Which breeds should wear a winter sweater?
Northern working breeds like huskies, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and sheepdogs have thick fur, dense undercoats, and/or layers of fat that increase in the wintertime to keep them warm. Yet, if you have a small dog or an older dog with arthritis, they’re not going to have enough fat or fur to keep them warm. Dogs with thin or shaved fur like chihuahuas, greyhounds, and sometimes poodles could also benefit from an extra man-made layer of protection from the cold.
What about shoes?
You might want to consider outfitting your pup with a pair of dog shoes or winter boots. For one, ice melt and rock salt that is used on sidewalks is a known skin irritant. Not only are the grains sharp, but they can cause burns to your dog’s paw pads. Just like another winter chemical, antifreeze, ice melts can be toxic when ingested.
Not to mention, if you were once the sort of little kid to play out in the freezing snow without gloves on, then you know how much constant skin contact with a cold surface can hurt! Hot sidewalks can blister a dog’s paws, but below freezing sidewalks can be just as painful. Even wolves weren’t built to walk on stone for prolonged periods of time.
Listen to your dog
If you’re still not sure if you should suit up your pup for a walk in the wintertime, pay attention to what he or she is trying to tell you. A dog who hesitates to go outside in the cold needs to be bundled up. Likewise, you shouldn’t disregard your best friend’s shakes and shivers. They’re a sure sign that it’s too chilly outside for an unprotected walk.
Are you looking for someone who’s unafraid of the cold to come walk your dog? Drop us a line, and be sure to let us know if your pup needs any additional bundling up!
Candace Elise Hoes is a blogger at Kim’s Urban Hounds. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.