The year has flown by fast and soon the leaves will be changing and the chill of fall will be in the air. Then soon after that comes the beautiful but cold, snowy days of winter.
For many of us, we can snuggle by the fire with blankets and hot cocoa, or we can layer our clothing so that we can see the glistening, frosty snow first hand.
We know how to deal with the changing of seasons, but what about our pets.
For first time Golden Retriever owners, how will you help your pet adjust to the cold and snow of winter? Do you know what to do? What they need?
Whether it is your pup’s first winter or if you have relocated your Golden Retriever to a colder climate, here are a few things to consider...
- Different dogs respond differently to the cold and snowy weather.
- Golden Retrievers usually love the cold and snow and adjust pretty well thanks to their double coat.
- If your dog is not use to the cold and snow, introduce it to them gradually for short periods of time.
- Even though golden retrievers have thick coats, a doggy jacket for a new pup or older dog may be appropriate if the weather is more extreme. A puppy’s coat is not fully developed which could affecting his body temperature and an older dog may have a weaker immune system or arthritis.
- Be cautious of falls and injuries for dogs who are not use to such snowy, icy conditions.
- Be aware of all types of snow – this is their first experience and there are always risks – sprains, broken bones, hypothermia - until they become accustomed to this type of weather.
- Be aware of your dog’s feelings about their experience in the cold and snow. It’s a new experience, don’t rush it!
Golden Retrievers in general tend to love their experiences in the cold and snow. They are full of energy, love to go on adventures and are playful in all types of surroundings.
The cold and snow is often intriguing to them because of all the changes in their environment. Goldens are curious canines who love to explore, especially when they can chase that white stuff falling from the skies and roll in the soft, cold, powder-like mounds on the ground.
Yet, even with this, we still need to be conscious of how the cold and snow affects Golden Retrievers and what steps need to be taken to keep this experience joyful and safe.
Steps for a Safe and Healthy Winter Experience
- Dogs get cold just like humans. Pay special attention to your golden in cold or hot environments.
- If the weather drops below 20 degrees F, monitor your dog’s well-being and check for any signs that your dog is too cold.
- Never leave your dog alone in the car/truck. Temperatures can become colder than the air outside during winter months and hotter during the summer months.
- Your Golden Retriever has a thick double coat, they more than likely do not need a doggy jacket (unless it’s a pup or older dog).
- Monitor the amount of time your dog is outdoors and exposed to the elements. Never leave your dog outside alone for extended periods.
- Wipe your dog’s paws to clean off any salt or chemicals to avoid it being ingested or irritating the paws.
- For extremely cold or snowy weather, some suggest doggie boots to keep paws dry, safe and warm when going outside. Not all dogs take to them but it may be worth the try.
- Check the amount of snow your Golden Retriever has accumulated on the bottom of the coat/fur and remove it if necessary.
- If you decide to bathe your dog make sure to completely dry the dog’s coat before letting them outside.
- If your golden is active and spends a lot of time outdoors, increase their food intake with extra high-quality dog food since they will be burning more calories trying to stay warm.
- Be sure your dog has plenty of water. Dogs need the extra water in the winter to help them stay warm and avoid dehydration.
Remember your Golden Retriever is part of the family, and just like us can experience pain, even frostbite when staying out too long in the cold. Your golden will tell you when too much is too much.
Here are some signs indicating that your dog may be too cold.
Your golden is a dog for all seasons! Just remember that because of your dog’s high energy, need for exercise, and love for adventure, staying in during those extremely cold, snowy days/nights where you can’t go out won’t cut it. Your golden needs activities that will stimulate his mind and body. Keep your retriever active with the following games.
- Training exercises – teach a new skill or work on commands
- Hide and seek – hide a favorite toy and have your dog find it
- Games and Puzzles – for indoor play that offers a treat or surprise once solved
- Play Fetch – throw a ball and have your dog fetch it
Always reward your golden with pats, praise, toys and treats.
Tips to Remember
- All dogs react different to cold and snow
- Be aware of temperatures and what your dog needs to be comfortable in each type of climate.
- Never leave your dog alone, either outside or in a car/truck during cold, snowy weather.
- Doggie jackets or boots are available (puppies/older dogs), but may not be necessary for a healthy Golden Retriever who loves the cold and snow
- Limit outdoor time depending on weather conditions
- Wipe and clean paws to prevent ingesting chemicals and irritations
- Brush off excess snow on your golden’s coat/fur
- Keep an eye on your dog's behavior and look for signs that your dog is too cold
- If it’s too cold outside, keep your dog active inside to burn off all that energy
- Give your Golden Retriever extra high-quality food, plenty of water, and a warm place to sleep!
Protect Those Paws
Just like humans need gloves in the winter, we need to help our pups protect their paws when temperatures are at their coldest.
You can make your own paw balm at home using the AKC’s suggested recipe.
Homemade Paw Balm
Start with these ingredients:
- 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) olive, sunflower, or sweet almond oil.
- 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) coconut oil.
- 1 oz. (approx. 1 tbsp.) shea butter.
- 4 tsp. beeswax.
Melt all of these materials together over a double-boiler, mix well, and then carefully pour into heat-safe tubes or tubs. Old children’s glue sticks work well as long as they’re thoroughly washed in advance and the mixture isn’t too hot.
Once they set, just roll the hardened stick up and rub it over your pup’s paws as if you were applying deodorant!
Do you have any winter tips for our golden retrievers that you would like to share? Leave us a comment below!