Temperatures are dropping. The freezing wind isn’t letting up. Rain, snow and ice are on the way — and you still have to walk the dog!
It can be tough to exercise your best friends when it’s cold outside. Beyond the inconvenience of the elements, exposure to freezing temperatures can be very dangerous for dogs, leading to frostbite or even hypothermia.
Warmth, comfort, and safety for your canine companion are especially important in winter. There are reliable ways to safeguard your dogs’ adventures: dog booties or wax, jackets, and eye protection can make a world of difference for your pup’s comfort.
Getting outside with your dog should be a year-round routine. The right gear will let you and your pets venture into the cold and stay outside longer. Read on to learn about the best winter gear for dogs.
Frozen paws hurt.
Just like you, your dog probably needs boots this winter. Canine footwear can make all the difference between a pleasant lap in the snow and a painful, limping stroll.
Dog booties will keep your dogs’ paws drier and cleaner for those neighborhood walks or winter trail runs. They stop melting salt, used all winter to melt ice and snow, from sticking to dogs’ feet.
Dog boots can also help keep their paws from cracking and drying in the elements. And as any long-haired dog owner knows, snow can ball up between your dogs’ toes, making it difficult for them to walk.
Choose winter dog booties based on what elements you’ll be in. A lower, waterproof boot is fine for rain and puddles, but you’ll want a boot that extends further up the dog’s legs for deep snow.
Most dog boot models are made of durable, waterproof fabric for the upper that tightens with Velcro around the upper ankle. The sole is supple rubber composite that sits comfortably, but not snugly, under the dog’s paws.
Does your pup have a dew claw? Many dogs have a single nail higher up on the inside of their front paws. Boots can rub against this nail and irritate the skin, leading to injury or even infection.
Consider wrapping a small amount of gauze or getting a boot liner (essentially a thin dog sock) to prevent rubbing and pin the dew claw down before putting on the boot. Keep their nails trimmed for comfort, too.
Dog boots are useful in other seasons, too. They can help prevent painful prickers and bug bites in the summer, and are the perfect solution for walking on extremely hot sidewalks and asphalt in the peak of a city summer.
Your dog probably won’t like the dog booties at first, so it’s crucial to use them many times before they’re actually needed. Fido should be walking, running, and playing normally in their fresh kicks.
Start training in a comfortable environment, like the house or backyard, for a short amount of time. Then, build up to longer amounts of time with their boots on. Incorporate them on regular and mundane activities like playing at the dog park and going on morning walks.
Make sure to keep things positive and give them lots of treats while they get used to covered feet. Be patient. Boots will pay dividends by keeping your dog’s feet protected and safe no matter where you go this winter!
Your dog deserves to have soft skin, too.
If dog booties aren’t your dog’s style, there are other options to keep their feet protected this winter: paw wax and paw conditioner, which work in tandem.
Pet-friendly paw wax prevents cracking, drying, and bleeding. Use wax when your dog is actively outside in the elements. A small amount is massaged into the entire paw pad and between the toes. It doesn’t take much to form a permeable, thin layer that creates a meaningful barrier between your dog’s paws and the icy ground.
Paw wax is a core part of the maintenance routine used on professional sled dogs, who run for hours at a time in adverse, extreme snow conditions. If it works for them, it will definitely work for your dog’s hike in the foothills or that 30° run through downtown.
Paw conditioners are like leather conditioner. They prevent cracking and drying over time.
Good moisturizers are usually a blend of oils that condition, smooth, and toughen your dog’s feet. Use conditioners when you're inside after a cold adventure.
Just like lotion, dog paw conditioners quickly deliver nutrients to the paw and lock moisture in, making pads flexible but strong. There are many brands selling specialized products, but you can also use regular coconut oil.
Make sure to read the ingredients and choose trustworthy brands like Musher’s Secret or Natural Dog Company. Look for products that are non-toxic, food grade, and safe for dogs, because your dog will definitely lick their feet after application!
Dog Jackets for Winter
Dog clothes were once seen as bad fashion choices by helicopter pet parents. But these days pet clothes are no longer a gimmick: they’re seriously practical for winter!
The highest-quality technology and materials are now used for winter dog coats. Modern designs use snaps and Velcro and come in multiple sizes and even custom orders.
Many doggy winter jackets have mindful designs. Dog winter jackets with a harness hole make it easy to clip on a leash, and account for wagging tails by designing a gap at the tail. Padding on the straps prevents chafing or rubbing.
Dog rain coats are fully waterproof and lightweight. They should be the length of your dog’s body and run partway down their sides.
Waterproof dog coats mainly keep your dog’s back and sides dry. Water will inevitably still kick up onto their legs, belly, head, and tail. But in a downpour or perpetual rain, a rain jacket can keep your dog drier — and your car a little cleaner!
Doggy snow jackets use down or synthetic material in a baffled pattern to insulate your dog. Most models wrap around dog’s sides and even snap closed around the belly, the most exposed part of your dog. They are windbreakers, but help your dog retain heat in extreme cold.
Snow jackets are especially perfect for smaller and shorter-haired dogs that have trouble warming up and staying warm. If your dog is going to be outside in the cold and wet for an extended amount of time, a winter jacket might not only be helpful, but necessary, to get warm and stay that way.
Dog Reflective Gear
Short winter days means walking your dog in the dark. During long nights, it’s vital to make sure both you and your dog are easy to see.
Ice and snow can make it hard for traffic, bikes, and other people to see you. So why not change that with strategic reflective gear?
Consider picking up a clip-on light for your dog. Many small, battery-powered options attach easily to a collar or leash, so they’re easy to spot while chasing a ball across a snowy field, or at your side crossing the street.
Another great option is to use reflective gear, like our OllyDog reflective leash, harness and collar. Reflective gear is an easy way to make those longer winter evening walks safer and brighter for you and your furry friend.
You wouldn’t spend hours in the snow on a sunny day without sunglasses. Your dog shouldn’t have to, either!
Snowblindness is very real, and very dangerous. It’s basically a sunburn on your eyes. The intense white reflectivity of snow over time can cause eye watering, eye swelling, headache, and blurred vision.
Skiers and snowboarders wear goggles all day to cut through the intense UV light that can damage all layers of the cornea in only 5 hours.
If you’re regularly spending more than 30 minutes at a time in the snow with your dog, look into doggles.
Just like sunglasses, these can cut down on the amount of UV that gets through. They’ll be able to see easily, their eyes will be safe from damaging light, and you’ll feel confident your dog’s sight is preserved for endless winter adventures ahead.
Doggles for the contemporary canine are comfortable, form-fitting, and ergonomic. They’re made from durable, flexible, super lightweight materials that sit on the dog’s head in a non-obtrusive way, and need minimal adjustment. Many come in bright colors, and even have patterned lens options.
Doggles can also be used year-round to keep bugs and plants out of dog’s eyes, protect them from sun damage…and lend an undeniable “cool” factor.
Your dog won’t like their shades at first. Again, stick with training, keep things positive, and start off with short sessions in comfortable places. Protecting their eyes in winter conditions is worth it!
Keep a Close Eye on Your Dog in Winter
Cold weather takes an extra layer of attention. Make sure to check the weather before you head out.
Often, windchill can drop the temperature significantly, making 40° feel like 25°. When temperatures are really low, keep walks short.
Of course, never leave your dog unattended in extreme cold weather. Give them a clear way back into a warm place.
If you’re in really snowy conditions, stick to busy walkways and worn paths to avoid wet, heavy, and fresh snow that will soak your dog. Their hair is the thinnest on their bellies, so wading through snow can lower your dog’s body temperature quickly.
Keep a close eye on your pup’s body language or any unusual behavior in case your dog is getting cold. Watch for shivering, paw licking, lifting their legs, yipping, or excessive whining or barking.
The Best Dog Gear for the Win at OllyDog
Adventuring with your dog in winter should be fun! If it isn’t, a new piece of cold weather gear could change the whole season for you and your closest companion.
Is it rainy where you are? Look into waterproof dog jackets. Is it snowy? A warm jacket, paw wax, and dog boots are worth researching.
No matter the weather, paw moisturizer will keep your pup ready for their next escapade, and reflective gear will keep you both visible and safe on these long winter nights.