Deciding what to wear on a blustery, winter walk is simple for humans. A hat, coat, scarf, mittens, and you’re ready to head out the door. But it can be a bit tricky to decide how best to suit up your dog. Luckily, we’ve tracked down the best winter gear any dog owner could need to keep their pup warm, safe, and happy.
Let’s start from the paws up!
The first must-have for winter dog walks are booties. There are countless hilarious videos of dogs waddling around in these funny, little shoes, but it turns out they aren’t just for giggles.
Like our hands and feet, dog’s paws are very sensitive and can become irritated in extreme weather. Harsh wind can dry them out, jagged rock salt can puncture them, and cold snow between their toes can be painful. Booties help lessen these problems and keep dog paws safe and clean in rain, sleet, snow, and heat.
Protex Pawz Dog Boots are a great starting brand for walkers who want to give booties a try, but don’t want to shell out for the expensive luxury varieties. Protex Pawz slips easily onto a dog’s paws, but maintains a snug fit. This means you won’t have to stop every five minutes to adjust them. These boots are thin enough that your dog can maintain their balance, feel grounded, and achieve traction, but thick enough to prevent punctures and keep your dog’s paws safe in cold or heat. They’re also 100% rubber so when your walk is over they can be reused for another day or you can throw them away knowing they are biodegradable.
Protex Pawz come 12 to a pack and are purchasable at Petco in 6 sizes with a starting price of $12.
But maybe booties aren’t right fit for your dog. Maybe they are uncomfortable for your dog, or are too expensive, or keep getting lost, or cause any number of inconveniences. Well, fear not because there is a tried-and-true alternative: Paw wax.
Paw wax is, well, wax! It is traditionally made out of natural ingredients to create a moisturizing, protective barrier on a dog’s paws, nose, elbows, etc.
When it comes to paw wax, Musher’s Secret is the most well known, and for good reason. It was developed in Canada to protect the paws of sled dogs, hence the name Musher, the name for the driver of a dogsled. Musher’s Secret is made from 100% natural food grade wax with no soy or flax oil, so if your pup happens to lick at their paws, they’ll be just fine.
According to their website, Musher’s Secret can protect paws from
- Ice build up
- Sand clumps and sandburn
- Hot pavement
- Rugged terrain
- Chemicals from pesticides, fertilizer, salt residue
The wax is semi-permeable so any surfaces it's applied to, whether it be paws, noses, elbows, or hot spots, will be able to breath yet remain protected. It’s also safe for use on cats, horses, and chickens.
Musher’s Secret is available as a 60 oz tub for $14.99 on Chewy.
A winter coat is a wardrobe essential for you and your pooch on any winter day. It helps keep you both dry, warm, and blocks the freezing wind. Admittedly, not every dog needs a winter coat. Dogs bred for cold weather like Siberian Huskies, Great Pyrenees, and German Shepherds have longer, thicker coats and are more tolerant of the cold. But, dogs with short, thin hair like Greyhounds, Weimaraner, and Dachshunds are much more sensitive. Still, when it comes to your dog's comfort and health it’s always better to play it safe and a sturdy winter coat is a great way of doing that.
The Alpine All-Weather Dog Coat is a coat with a waterproof exterior to keep your pet dry in rain and snow with a fleece lined interior for extra warmth. The jacket has reflective straps for visibility at night, adjustable, cinching neck, and an access hole for attaching a leash to a harness. The Alpine All-Weather Dog Coat is available in four adorable colors and comes in a wide range of sizes. It starts at $37.95, but goes up once you reach XL sizes.
If the price of most winter dog coats don’t work for you and you’re feeling crafty, you can always turn to DIY. Using new materials or, better yet, by recycling your own old winter jackets and fleeces, you can make a cozy, secure jacket that fits your dog like a glove.
Although the thought of a dog wearing a snood might make you snicker, many pet owners have discovered how handy these hoods can be. Just like you may wear a beanie or a scarf in wintertime to protect the sensitive skin of your face, a dog might wear a snood to protect their ears. Certain breeds with floppy, thin ears have a higher risk of suffering frostbite in extreme cold which can be difficult to treat. A snood keeps a dog’s ears secure in a warm pouch close to their heads, away from harsh wind and freezing temperatures.
A recommended brand is Summit Snoods. For $22.00, their version comes in small, medium, and large and has two cinch closures to ensure a snug fit. They also have reflective piping for visibility in the dark.
Pet Safe Sidewalk Salt
While this product is not a winter accessory, it is still an important item for keeping your dog safe during the winter.
Regular sidewalk salts contain sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. While these chemicals work well to melt snow and ice, they are dangerous for animals. They are toxic and if ingested can result in your pet experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, ulcerations, and seizures. It is not uncommon for dogs to lick their paws after going for a walk in the snow, so if a dog happened to stroll through a melted puddle of rock salt it could lead to an emergency vet visit.
An easy way to prevent this issue is using pet safe sidewalk salt. Morton Safe-T-Pet is a variety developed with the help of veterinarians with the goal of keeping pets safe. This de-icer is free of dangerous chlorides and salts, but is still effective in conditions down to 10⁰F.
Morton Safe-T-Pet is sold at Petco for $16.99.
First Aid and Disinfectant Spray
Sometimes, despite every precaution, dogs can’t help but find trouble. They cut their paws on rock salt, slip on the ice, scrape themselves by playing too hard. In times like those, you need an accessible, reliable product that will help you clean your pet’s wound ASAP. Made with bacitracin and zinc, Fauna Care First Aid Spray is such a product.
Bacitracin acts as a topical antibiotic to disinfect wounds and keep them clean while zinc is an essential mineral that quickens the healing of skin. With a spray nozzle on top, the solution is easy to apply without having to touch your pet’s injury. Fauna Care First Aid Spray soothes inflammation, prevents fungal and bacterial infections, and has been shown to speed up healing time. It contains no preservative, surfactants, alcohol, or fragrances and has been tested and approved for use on all pets.
Fauna Care First Aid Spray is available right here on the Fauna Care website for $24.99, along with a variety of other effective pet health products.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Too Cold
These products are all designed to keep your dog warm and safe over the course of the winter, but they don’t make your pet impervious to the elements. That’s why, even with all your sweet gear, it’s important to know the signs that your dog is getting too cold and that it’s time to head inside.
As mentioned above, different breeds, size, and coat types will change your dog’s cold tolerance, but there are a few general guidelines.
- When temperatures are at or above 45°F, your dog should need no winter gear.
- At temperatures at or below 32°F, small breeds or those with short, thin coats will need more protection. Puppies and senior dogs, regardless of breed or size, should get special consideration during these conditions as well.
- Finally, when the temperature is at or below 20°F, all dog owners should be taking precautions to keep their dog extra warm. At times like these, it is best to keep walks short.
Some signs to watch out for if you suspect your dog is too cold are:
- Moving slowly
- Holding up their paws
- Licking their paws obsessively
If you notice any of these symptoms, get your dog inside ASAP, towel them off, and let them warm up.
Keeping your pet safe is a year round commitment, but there’s no doubt that the winter provides some unique challenges for dog owners. By having the right products handy, you’ll both be able to leave your worries behind and enjoy the winter wonderland.