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Top Tips for Dog Health During Winter

When the temperature is plummeting and there’s a nip to the breeze, it’s time to pile on the layers and snuggle up by the fire. But remember if you’re feeling the winter chill, you can guarantee your four-legged friend is too. 

Sometimes it can be tricky to know what our dogs are thinking or feeling, as they don’t have the words to tell us.

So, how do you know when your dog is cold?

Dogs may exhibit a range of behaviours when the cold weather is affecting their wellbeing. Look out for:

  • Trembling or shivering
  • Whining
  • Seeking out heaters or warm spaces (such as your bed)
  • Curling up into a small ball or tucking in their tail
  • Avoiding cold tiles/flooring
  • Changes in behaviour, such as anxiety
  • Reluctance to walk forward when outside

Of course, every breed is different, meaning some dogs will feel the cold more than others. Breeds with short coats, no undercoat, low body fat and/or short legs - such as Greyhounds, German Shorthaired Pointers, Boxers and Chihuahuas - will generally be less tolerant of cold weather

On the other hand, breeds with thick fur, double coats or dense undercoats have evolved to adapt to the conditions of their native cold climates, such as Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Saint Bernards.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a new dog into your family, it’s a good idea to consider which breed is best suited to your local climate, as this will heavily influence your dog’s general wellbeing and comfort levels. 

Cold weather dogs

The impact of cold weather on dogs

When your dog is exposed to cold weather, it can cause lethargy, lead to low mood and aggravate existing health conditions - especially in senior dogs.

Research has shown that dogs are also 48% less likely to receive substantial exercise in colder weather, with walks becoming more functional than recreational. 

Additionally, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine discovered that 
diabetes diagnoses in dogs were more likely to occur in the winter. Possibly due to how the body processes vitamin D or insulin.

As you can see, it’s especially important to nurture your pup’s health when the temperature drops. 

Read on to find out how to keep your dog warm and safe this winter. You’ll learn about joint care for dogs, healthy dog food in winter and staying active during a cold snap.

How to create a warm space for your canine companion

There’s no better feeling than snuggling into a cosy bed on a cold winter night. Unsurprisingly, dogs share our desire for warmth and comfort; they love snuggling on a winter night too!

As a top tip: look for a soft, warm bed (calming/snuggle beds are ideal) and add thick blankets. It’s ok to gently drape a loose blanket over your dog, but don’t tuck them in too tightly as this may cause overheating. 

A warm space is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outside. In which case, an elevated bed helps to protect them from the chill on the ground, while a kennel or enclosure shelters them from the rain, wind and frost. 

You can even buy self-warming beds and microwaveable pads/pillows. Just be sure that the temperature is safe and tolerable before giving them to your pet.

Dog in winter

Winter diets: what is the most healthy food for dogs?

We tend to adapt our own diets when the winter arrives, favouring warm, hearty foods like soups and casseroles. 

When you implement a homemade dog diet and feed your dog real food, you acquire the freedom to adapt their diet based on the season, their specific breed and individual sensitivities.

Warming foods can work really well during the colder months; providing nourishment and helping to beat the chill. 

Try a delicious chicken/turkey/duck hotpot cooked in chicken broth, featuring tasty warming vegetables, such as pumpkin, sweet potato, zucchini and parsnip.

During the winter, it is particularly important to consider micronutrients. But how can you be sure that your dog is receiving the vitamins and minerals they need?

To remove the guesswork, Wellbeing Essentials Complete 22 was developed in conjunction with vets and food scientists to address these very concerns. It provides dogs with the key dietary nutrients that are vital for winter wellbeing in just one tasty spoonful. Add it to your dog’s warming winter meals for complete peace of mind.

Keen to get started but don’t know where to begin? Download our free eBook for tips, recipes and information on incorporating real food into your dog’s winter diet.


Why winter walks matter for healthy hounds

During the winter, when it’s dark and cold, it’s tempting to abandon your dog’s favourite long walks for shorter trots round the block. But the consequence of this is that there’s a greater chance of your dog piling on the pounds and also feeling a little bored. And who can blame them?

So, how can you keep your dog warm and still enjoy lengthy winter strolls?

Walking during the day when it’s not as cold is a great idea for dog health. Movement gets the blood pumping, warms you both up and boosts mental health. It’s also safer than going out after dark, when you are less visible to motorists and other pedestrians.

However, it’s still important to be mindful of the temperature. Long walks are best avoided when the mercury drops below 4°C. This can pose considerable health risks for your pup, especially when the ground is icy and their paws, nose, tail and ears are exposed.

A jumper or jacket is perhaps the easiest way of protecting your dog from the cold, if they are tolerant of clothing. Ensure a correct fit, avoid items that may irritate or restrict your dog’s movement, and be mindful of zippers and buttons that can pose a choking hazard.

Last but not least, if your dog gets wet from splashing in puddles or running through the snow, dry them off with a towel or hair dryer. Even better, snuggle up on the sofa together to share that body heat!  

Older dog in winter

Senior dog care: wellbeing essentials for winter

Cold temperatures can be especially hard on senior dogs, aggravating degenerative joint issues such as arthritis. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 80% of dogs have arthritis by the time they reach eight years of age.

So, what can you do to keep your senior dog healthy during winter?

Firstly, it’s important to keep them moving, despite the temptation to let them nap the day away in their cosy bed. Gentle exercise, such as a short walk, boosts circulation and maintains muscle tone. It also helps to avoid weight gain, which puts added pressure on already sore joints.

A slightly elevated or orthopaedic bed is also beneficial, protecting them from drafts and hard floors, which can cause discomfort.

We’ve all heard the saying ‘food is the best medicine’ and this certainly applies to senior dogs. Supplementation is an excellent idea to ensure they are receiving the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and powerful antioxidants they need.

Naturally anti-inflammatory are shown to improve joint stiffness with its list of 22 all-natural ingredients, Wellbeing Essentials Complete 22 is a great source of nutrients for your senior dog. It provides complete peace of mind in helping to boost your dog’s health and vitality.

All it takes is a little extra TLC, to ensure your senior dog can enjoy a safe and comfortable winter.


In Conclusion

Winters don’t need to be daunting for dogs or their owners. Take extra measures to keep them warm, adapt their food as the temperature drops, incorporate supplements into their diet and enjoy appropriate activity to keep them healthy and happy.

Keen to introduce a real food diet this winter? Download our free eBook for all the tips and information you need to get started.

Dogs have different dietary needs to humans, and a lot of dogs won’t be receiving the levels of nutrients that they need to thrive. Having an idea of your dog’s basic nutrient needs and what they receive through their food should be a priority when it comes to structuring a well-rounded dog diet.

Like it or not, poop is one of the main ways we can keep an eye on our dog’s health - the colour, smell and consistency can be a first hand indicator into the health of our pups and whether something might be amiss inside.

What does it mean to be an “ethical” pet owner or have an eco-friendly dog anyway, and how can we take steps towards protecting the future of our - and our dogs’ - planet?

In this blog, we’re going to explore the evolving landscape of ethical pet ownership.