Snow means it’s time for hot chocolate, skiing, and pristine scenery. As beautiful as it is, some challenges are created, especially for pups and their parents. Icy porch steps, freezing temperatures, slushy messes can all be tough on dogs. But we have some genius hacks used by actual pet owners that will take the hassle out of winter.
1. Stay Away from Snow-melt
While more precautionary than an actual hack, this is still a biggie. Snow-melt and other chemical-based ice banishers (like antifreeze) are extremely dangerous to dogs. Not only can it cause chemical burns on those precious paws, if ingested it can induce severe illness. The solution? Don’t use it. We will provide other anti-slip solutions below. (Tip—If concerned about Snow-melt when going on walks, utilize a good pair of booties.)
2. Lay Down Snow Carpet
Snow carpet can simply be laid along stairs or on patios that get extra icy. The worst spots tend to be along the rorooflinewhere the melted snow refreezes after trickling off. Never underestimate ice—even with good boots and balance, those feet can be over your head in a second. Amazon has some pretty basic rolls of slightly waxed coconut fiber. To get it to stay in place, lay boards or bricks down while it takes shape. A couple of gripped outdoor rugs can be used as all-season anchors as well. (Tip—When spring arrives, shred the coconut fiber and use it as mulch.)
3. Create a Turf Patch
Snow means muddy messes, especially if there isn’t much grass in the back yard. An inexpensive artificial turf pad can be purchased online. Use landscaping stakes to secure it into the ground, right off the patio’s edge. Plastic turf is easy to shovel off and is easily cleaned with water. So this can be the primary potty pad for the season. Some folks purchase turf with a cleanable tray underneath and protect small fur babies from harsh weather within the garage.
4. Keep Them Toasty
Hypothermia occurs in dogs if their body temperature falls below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Prevention is key. PetMD notes that shivering is one of the first signs your pup is getting too cold—but watch for lethargy or other behaviors that aren’t normal as well. When outside for a prolonged period, dress dogs appropriately. Figo has some great tips on selecting the right winter wear. A heating pad can be handy for warming up before and after potty trips.
5. Stimulate and Exercise
Being trapped inside is tough for both man and best friend. Using precaution and proper clothing techniques, walks and hikes are still great for pups in the winter. Keep in mind, they should be gradually acclimatized to frigid temps, so short backyard play sessions should come first. (Tip--always seek the advice of your vet when it comes to age or health concerns.) But if opting to stay indoors, take a look at our suggestions for games and activities when stuck in the house.
6. Warm Their Food
A warm meal is comforting and can keep those body temperatures up in small dogs. Try pouring lukewarm water over their meals. Microwaving can be kind of dicey as it can create hot spots, unless you are willing to swish your finger around in that kibble to ensure it's cool enough.
7. Up Your Treat Game
Some dogs love snow, others, not so much. They may be less than enthusiastic and might prefer pooping in the warmth of your carpeted living room. Positive reinforcement goes a long way, and if there’s a language pups know best, it’s food. Trader Joe’s pure salmon dog treats typically spark solid incentive. But Figo’s recipe for pup fripup-friendly butter macarons looks like a winner too. Heck, I’d almost eat them.
Hopefully this guide can help you enjoy the snow a little bit more, and stress a little less. That leaves more time for baking cookies and snuggling up for a good film, pup in our lap of course. Sounds like the perfect way to end those icy days.
Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.