Winter is in full swing in New Zealand, don't be fooled by the random good weather. With winter comes rain, rain, and more rain; well in Auckland at least. A lot of the parks and tracks become swamped and muddy, which can be great fun for our dogs!
But, should we be concerned about our dogs during these cooler months? Well, I don't think we need to be concerned, just cautious and smart. So, let's get into it, our top 5 winter tips!
1. Coats - Fur or Faux
It can be confusing when deciding whether your dogs natural coat is enough. SO, generally, their age, breed and health are important considerations. You can’t really go wrong with a coat or sweater for those short fur breeds, to keep an older or sick dog snuggly, or to keep off the rain. However, double coat breeds, such as Huskies, are very well suited to the cold, and may risk overheating if forced to wear a coat.
If your dog is a water rat and can’t resit the waterways, even when it’s freezing! Either bring an old towel along for the car ride or dry them off when you get home. You may choose to rinse any mud off - using warm water can be much more tolerable for dogs. Otherwise, go straight in with the towel. Start around the face, especially if their ears are droopy, moving onto their back and belly, and finishing with their 4 legs. Drying your pooch can make a huge difference for their health, especially if they are an outside dog.
Depending on your dog, you may want to take them on a couple of shorter walks during the day, rather than one long walk. Smaller, short haired, and older dogs are going to feel the cold much faster. So, perhaps, taking time out during the late morning and early afternoon for a brisk walk would be beneficial. Or, since winter months bring shorter days, hiring a walker can make a huge difference. Your pooch can get out during warmer parts of the day, burn cooped up energy, play, and potentially, meet other dogs.
Be mindful when feeding. If your pooch is spending a lot of time indoors, or not getting as much exercise, they are not using as much energy and, therefore, don’t need extra food. However, if your dog lives outside, they may need some extra food to maintain lost energy.
Last but not least, your dogs skin. Just like us, our dogs can get dry skin in the cooler months. Checking their coats for flaky skin, any dry patches or cracks on their paws is easy while giving them a pat and cuddle. If there are any dry spots apply some coconut oil* to the affected area to re-moisturise!
* Virgin, unrefined coconut oil is best and is available at most supermarkets.