Myth #1: Their Fur Keeps Them Warm
And some fur coats just plain suck.
But just because your dog has a thick fur coat doesn’t mean they’re immune to extreme weather conditions like hypothermia and frostbite. If your dog is small, it’s an especially good idea to get your pup a coat. But here’s another myth to dispel: just because you’re a bigger dog doesn’t mean you won’t look absolutely fabulous in a winter jacket.
Myth #2: Dogs Can Eat All The Snow!
I won’t lie. Snow does look delicious. Crisp, fresh, smooth. But the general rule of “avoid yellow snow” should be amended (even if yellow snow does taste great), because your dog should avoid eating any kind of snow.
Snowfall obscures garbage and other animal waste, not to mention chemicals and salt. Your pup (and you) can fall ill from ingesting any of these. Best for your dog to stick to tap water. But obviously, like, the finest tap water from the finest establishment.
Myth #3: Dogs Don’t Need As Much Water In Winter
Even though it’s the dead of winter, I still managed to sweat through my entire shirt this morning during my subway commute. So when my co-workers are like, “Hey, how’s it going?” I can answer with this cheery reply:
Why did I share this disgusting personal anecdote? To prove a point: we all — dogs included — get dehydrated and thirsty, even in the winter. With cold weather comes dry weather, plus dogs lose much of their body moisture by panting and breathing heavily (which, yes, I was also doing on the subway. Do you even need to ask?).
Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, be sure to keep your pup well-hydrated, especially before and after physical activities.
And if you’re a subway sweater like me, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. It’s just awkward and wet everywhere until summertime rolls around. And then we just keep right on sweating in that sauna. I mean subway. (I mean sauna.)
Myth #4: If Your Dog Poops In The Snow, You Can Just Let It Go
If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably experienced this before: you frolic on the fresh green grass to welcome the wonderful warm spring weather…only to be greeted by a rock-hard, ice-cold dog turd from three months ago. That’s some nasty @$$ poop. Literally.
A lot of people assume (or hope wildly) that dog waste will simply melt away with the snow. You know, like magic. Poop magic.
Unfortunately, these people are wrong. Cold weather actually delays the process of biodegradation, making those poops extra strong ‘n’ sturdy. This is both gross and problematic, since old fecal matter attracts bacteria and rodents and serves as a vessel for disease.
No matter how cold it is, pick up that poop. Everyone will be better for it.
Myth #5: You Don’t Have To Worry About Fleas And Ticks
Unlike most pests, fleas and ticks find solace in warm shelter during the cold winter months. That often means those dirtbags are IN YOUR HOUSE.
With this cheerful thought in mind, don’t slack off on those routine flea and tick inspections. If your pup does have fleas or ticks, all that extra itching can do even more damage to their skin, which is already extra dry.
Myth #6: Paw Protection Is Only Necessary For Longer Walks
True, dog booties and paw wax are annoying to put on. That is one myth we won’t dispel. But even though the struggle is real, the struggle is also worth it, because dog’s paws put up with a lot during the winter. Just by walking around, dogs are at risk for frostbite and injury, not to mention the harmful salt that’s on nearly every surface. The salt causes a reaction that makes your pup’s paws burn. Plus, dogs can absorb harmful chemicals and anti-freeze through their paw pads.
As a general rule, always use protection. Ha. Get it?
Myth #7: Dogs Don’t Need Your Help Getting Rid of Excess Snow
After a playful romp in the snow, your dog is often covered in extra snow, which has attached itself to their fur. Sometimes it looks harmless, and sometimes it literally looks like your dog grew a buttload of balls.And even though your dog will make moves to remove the snow themselves, that’s not the best idea.
All that licking, chewing, and gnawing is harmful for their skin, especially in the winter (when it’s already drier than normal). Instead, it’s best for you to get the extra snow bits out. You can pick ’em out yourself, or soak your dog in a quick, warm bath, which often loosens the snow chunks up enough that they fall right off. BONUS: Your dog won’t track as much snow-water through the house. (Although the same can’t be said for you.)
So go out there and take a big ol’ bite out of winter (but NOT literally — see Myth #2 — just enjoy this gif).