Protecting your dog from nasty weather is as important as regular vet check-ups. Not all companion dogs are adapted to be unprotected in the snow, in fact, many short haired breeds are prone to frost bite pretty quickly if left outside with out protection. Here is a list of dos and don'ts for your dog during the harsh winter months.
1. If your dog has a double coat, do enjoy lots of play time in the snow with him/her. A double coat provides protection but beware of extended time outside unsupervised (ie don't leave your dog out in the yard overnight!!!).
2. Don't let a young puppy go out in the snow - they don't thermal regulate as well as adults do!
3. Do check the pads of your dog if you and your K9 companion spend lots of time outdoors in the snow and ice. The pads can become dry and cracked and most dogs won't tell you when they are in pain!
4. Do invest in booties for your dog if you spend a lot of time outdoors with him.
5. Do teach your dog how to dig out your car! For this one, I push a treat deep into the snow near the tire and encourage my dog to find it by digging....
6. Don't let toy breeds or shorthaired breeds outside with out a coat and booties.
7. DO NOT LET YOUR DOG GO WHERE THE GROUND HAS BEEN SALTED!! Many salts are NOT pet friendly and cause a severe reaction in your dog, including death.
8. Do not leave your dog unattended in the car in the winter months.
9. Do increase the amount of food (specifically protein) you feed your dog if he spends time outdoors in the winter.
10. Do try a sport with your dog like skiijoring or sledding!
Be aware that your dog can dehydrate while playing in the snow and provide plenty of fresh water when he comes inside to warm up! Have fun and be safe.