Eight Toasty Tips To Keep Your Senior Dog Warm Outdoors This Winter

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The star and the inspiration for this post is Kevin Roberts’ dog, Willow, who has since crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. He brought her home when she was 3 years old, and she lived with him until she was 15. Kevin feels lucky that Willow was able to hike with him right up the day she died. It takes a little bit of consideration and planning to include your senior dogs in your outdoor adventures, but  Kevin has a few tips to ensure you and your senior dog enjoy this winter in comfort.

There is something special about a senior dog. Over the years, you have built a lifetime of memories.  Your dog may be more “gray” than “play” at this stage in his life, but that doesn’t mean he should stay at home once it starts snowing. Senior dogs benefit tremendously from regular exercise. In the winter, this means taking a few things into consideration before heading out into the winter wonderland.  Here are my eight essential outdoor tips for senior dogs during the winter.

Related: Safety Tips For Dog Paws

  1. Keep him moving. Walks and adventures will help keep joints nimble and the brain engaged. A senior dog will benefit from multiple short excursions rather than one long marathon one, especially in the winter.
  2. winter-tips-senior-dogs-1Avoid over doing it. “The mind is willing, but the body is not able” may be the motto of many senior dogs. Your dog might want to romp through the snow like he did when he was a pup, but he pays for it with aches and pains the next day. It’s up to you to be the judge of your dog, and control his activities.
  3. Keep him on a leash. Even the most obedient older dog will benefit from being on a leash during winter excursions. Your dog’s eyes and ears may not be as keen as they used to be, and it’s your job to keep your dog safe. A leash is going to go a long way in keeping your senior dog out of trouble. If your senior should wander onto a road, cars have a harder time stopping in the winter.  And if your hikes take place in the woods, it’s easy for a lost dog to become exhausted in the winter time.
  4. Take care of those feet. This is the time of the year where you need to keep your senior pal’s nails trimmed properly. Your dog should have the weight of the body pressed down on the foot pad, not on the nails. If he is standing on his nails, it can cause considerable pain and discomfort. A senior dog might already have some aches and pains, and this will add to the problem. Also, check for hair growing out of control between the toes. Hairy feet are for Hobbits, not dogs, and this extra fur does nothing to keep your dog warm. In fact, this hair traps snow and ice in between the paw pads, forcing the toes apart, and in some cases rubbing against the pads to causing bleeding – ouch!
  5. Dress for the weather. As dogs age, they can’t regulate their bodies temperatures as easily as they use to. Make sure your senior is outfitted with a warm coat and boots to help take the chill off. There are many styles of coats out these to choose from, so even older pooches can look fashionable while keeping warm.
  6. winter-tips-senior-dogs-2Set out a warm place to lie down. Place a few dog beds around your home so your senior dog can find a place that’s just the right temperature to lie down. A fleece blanket on top of a dog bed makes it a little warmer and a little softer – two things your senior pooch is sure to appreciate! And now that your dog is older and past the chewing stage, you can treat him to an electric blanket for his favorite napping spot.
  7. Proper diet. Talk to your vet about your senior dog’s activity and dietary needs. All dogs need a bit more food to keep warm during the winter. This is the time of year you can give him a little extra food, but be sure not to overdo it!
  8. Watch out for slippery surfaces. You know to be careful on ice, but dogs often don’t. In his younger days, your dog may have been a four-wheeling, ice-running machine – but these days, he may have trouble with traction. As your dog ages, he may not have the strength he used to have to keep him from slip-sliding around. If your sidewalks are icy, look for dog booties that are outfitted with rubber soles.