Wintertime Precautions To Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy & Comfortable

Wintertime Precautions for Senior DogsWith winter just around the corner, take extra precautions to keep your senior dog healthy and comfortable.

Justine Lee, DVM, and assistant clinical professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says healthy dogs with longer coats are able to maintain their body temperature during colder weather.

But certain breeds, like Greyhounds and Great Danes, may need some extra help.

“For dogs with the thinner coats — and especially for animals who have a lower body fat content –- they usually benefit from wearing a coat,” she says.

Even with a cozy sweater or jacket, though, restrict your dog’s outdoor exercise during extreme weather (less than 15 degrees.)

“Some animals actually limit themselves,” says Lee. “They’ll see snow, go outside and urinate then want right back in the house.”

When there’s a lot of snow, clear a potty area for your dog.
And provide older dogs, especially those suffering from arthritis, with a warm sleeping area indoors away from drafts.

Deirdre Chiaramonte, DVM, of the Animal Medical Center in New York City, sees a lot of cases in the winter involving debris lodge in-between footpads.

“It’s a spot most owners don’t look at routinely,” she says.

After outdoor romps, inspect your dog’s paws and remove any salt, ice or snow. Keep hair around paws trimmed. Less hair stops snow from becoming compacted between foot pads and causing discomfort.

To protect your dog’s feet, Chiaramonte recommends Musher’s Wax – a dense waxed-based cream applied to foot pads that prevents cracking as well as irritation from ice melting chemicals.

Doggie boots are another option.

Cold weather can exasperate certain medical conditions in older pets, says Lee, like hypothyroidism, a disorder in which the thyroid gland secretes insufficient amounts of hormones.

If your dog has gained weight (without a change in diet), continually seeks warmth, acts sluggish or has a poor coat, Lee recommends getting her thyroid level checked.