How to Keep Your Older Dog Warm in the Cold
Some dogs were made for cold weather, naturally equipped with a dense undercoat to help insulate them; the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Alaskan Malamute are examples. Others, not so much. But older dogs of most persuasions have a tougher time staying warm in cold temperatures than do dogs in their prime. Here are a few simple strategies to help keep your aging pooch warm and cozy during the cold winter months.
ADJUST YOUR OLDER DOG’S WINTER HABITS
Quick Tip: A fleece-lined dog jacket will keep your dog even cozier when you take her out. And if her sweater or coat is machine dryable, toss it around in the dryer a few moments before you head outside. Your older dog will love the extra warmth.
CHANGE YOUR OLDER DOG’S HOME ENVIRONMENT
WARM UP YOUR OLDER DOG’S BED
Quick Tip: Keep your older dog prepared for winter emergencies. Pack an emergency disaster kit for winter power outages; include an alternative heat source, and enough food, water, and routine meds for five days without power.
ADAPT YOUR OLDER DOG’S GROOMING ROUTINE FOR WINTER
Quick Tip: Take your older dog for a warm swim. Check for a heated indoor pool in your area (85° or so) where dogs are welcome. The warm water is therapeutic for her aged joints, and she’ll love the invigorating, non-weight-bearing fun.
Tolerance for cold varies widely among dogs and depends on a dog’s age, her coat thickness, stored body fat, and overall health. Dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances (Cushing’s disease, for example) will have a tougher time regulating their body temperature and thus will struggle more in the extreme cold. And cold weather can be a big problem for diseased joints, causing pain and discomfort. Be sensitive to your aging dog’s particular needs and take steps to help her stay comfortable and warm during the long winter months.
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