Winter can be a rough season for your German Shepherd! Although he or she has not only the top coat, but the under coat, as well, the cold can set in, so it is important to keep quite a few things in mind during the winter months, especially if you live in an area with a chillier climate. When it snows, sleets, or rains in the winter, your dog will have a more difficult time walking, running, and being outside. Their paws can get chapped, they can slip on ice while they are walking, and they can get sick if they consume chemicals that are used in ice-melting solutions (not to mention the burning that can occur on chapped paws when they walk across rock salt). In order to keep your dog safe and healthy during the cold weather months, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Keep your dog indoors.
If you have dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, it might be time to bring them inside for the winter. Give them a nice, warm place to sleep – not a basement or on the floors, which tend to be chilly and drafty – give them their own dog bed if they don’t already have one, and make sure they can stay warm and comfortable.
Lock up chemicals.
Along with the chemicals used in the ice-melts that are popular during the winter, a big problem for both cats and dogs is antifreeze. Many dogs and cats are attracted to this sweet tasting liquid, often left in garages, basements, and inside of cars. Make sure that there isn’t any of this around where your dog will be, and keep an eye out during walks to ensure that your dog doesn’t find any.
Moisturize your dog’s paws.
By rubbing some petroleum jelly onto your dog’s paws before going out for a walk, you can help to keep out any potentially hazardous elements from chapping or injuring their paws. Another option is to purchase a set of booties for your dog (made in plenty of sizes) that will go over their paws and prevent them from getting hurt.
Skip the baths if possible.
Like humans, the cold dry air can really dry out a dog’s skin. Coupled with frequent bathing, your German Shepherd’s skin can dry out easily, causing itching and flaking. If you absolutely must give them a bath, use a gentle, non-drying dog shampoo, such as a chemical-free oatmeal shampoo. Also, be sure to allow your dog to keep his or her coat long – do not trim or shave your dog during winter months.
Feed your German Shepherd more often.
Since German Shepherds are big dogs to start with, they may tend to eat more than smaller dogs. This is especially true in the winters, when they need the extra calories and energy to ensure that they stay warm. Feed your dog more frequently (even if you feed smaller meals), and be sure to encourage plenty of water consumption. Never leave your pet’s food or water outside, since they can become contaminated with ice melts or other chemicals, or freeze.