It's cold outside, and its going to get even colder tonight - 27 degrees in my neck of the woods. Here in Houston we rarely have to deal with subzero temps, so many of us aren't prepared to adequately care for our pets when the temperature plummets. Here's a few tips:
First - and this one is important - KEEP YOUR DOG INSIDE! Even if she is an "outside" dog. If it's too cold for you to sleep outside, it's too cold for your dog. Make sure she has a warm, dry place to sleep. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become very cold, so be sure to put down blankets and pads.
When you do take your pup outside, for exercise, potty or whatever, make it a short trip. Wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings, and your dog probably doesn't know how to tell you how cold she really feels.
Be extra careful when walking or playing with your dog near icy areas. Your dog could easily slip and get seriously injured.
Groom your dog regularly. 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, maybe even some dog booties. Watching a dog wear booties for the first time is simultaneously heart-wrenching and hilarious.
Feed your dog additional calories if she spends a lot of time outdoors or is a working animal. It takes more energy in the winter to keep her body temperature regulated, so additional calories are necessary.
Towel or blow-dry your dog if she gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean her 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. We already know this from Houston summers, but the same holds true for cold weather. If the car engine is left on, the carbon monoxide could endanger your dog's life. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.