The weather is getting cold again and most everyone is dealing with "winter preparedness." However, in the midst of chopping wood and taking down fencing, don’t forget about your dog. Even though dogs have fur, it doesn’t give them enough protection from extreme cold. If the weather gets below 10 or 20 degrees, bring the dog inside. Very young, old, or sick dogs are even less tolerant to the cold, so as temperatures drop be sure that they have a way to stay warm.
It’s also important to get your dog used to colder temperatures incrementally. If they spend some time outside throughout the fall, dogs adapt to the changing of the season by growing more fur and storing more fat. In other words: don’t suddenly decide in the middle of winter that your dog is going to be an outside dog. It will be extremely hard on the dog. By giving the dog’s body a chance to adapt to colder temperatures throughout fall, he’ll be able to withstand winter weather more easily.
Your dog may need more food as the temperatures drop as well. If your dog starts losing weight, he’ll be less able to withstand the cold, so it may be necessary to increase his food intake by as much as 25-30% during the winter. It should be obvious, but as the temperatures drop, it’s especially important to give your dog shelter. We’ve all seen the dogs tied to doghouses out in the cold, rain, wind, and snow. This treatment is simply cruel. Every dog deserves to have a warm dry place to curl up, even if he’s an "outside" dog. Installing a "doggie door" into a garage or mud room can be a good solution because the door allows the dog to go inside whenever the weather turns foul, even if you aren’t home to let him in.
Getting ready for winter is no small task in North Idaho, but by taking a few common sense precautions, you can keep your dog healthy and happy throughout the winter months.