Keep your dog in top shape during the winter months with these care tips.

Despite the popular misconception, your dogs fur coat is not enough to protect them from the elements. The fact is that, much like people, dogs have varying degrees of tolerance when it comes to temperature extremes. Review the list below to pick up some care tips for your dog this cold weather season.

  • Don't leave your dog outside in the cold for long periods of time.  Be attentive to your dog's body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.

  • Remove any sharp objects from your property before the snow flies. With snow on the ground, it's difficult for dogs to see things like jagged rocks, sharp edged toys, even left-out garden tools.

  • Keep your dog warm, dry and away from drafts.  Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.

  • Provide plenty of fresh water.  Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. 

  • Frostbite is your dog's winter hazard.  To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don't leave your dog outdoors for too long.

  • Be very careful of supplemental heat sources.  Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog.  Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.

  • Dogs can be more susceptible to illness in the winter.  Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.

  • Your dog needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated.  Short- or coarse-haired dogs may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat as long as it does not impede the use of a harness.  Long-haired dogs should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. 

  • Towel or blow-dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow.  It is important to dry and clean its paws, too.  This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads.  A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking. 

  • Don't leave your dog alone in a car without proper precautions. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.

Be sure to keep your dog healthy this winter season by keeping them away from these toxic items.

  • Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous.  Although it smells and tastes good to your dog, it can be lethal. 

  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate footpads.  Be sure to rinse your dog's feet after a walk with a warm, damp cloth or towel and be sure to dry them off afterwards.

  • Don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.

If you think your pet has eaten something potentially dangerous, call your veterinarian or a pet poison control center right away.