8 Tips to Keep Your Boxer Happy & Healthy This Winter
Does your Boxer love playing in the snow or would he or she rather cuddle up on the couch under a cozy blanket or snooze by the fire? Either way, you should be prepared to protect them when they venture outside during the winter months.
Here are a few suggestions for keeping your boxer safe, happy, and warm in the winter.
1. Does your boxer need to wear a coat or sweater outside?
Some dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally, but Boxers with their short fur need to wear a sweater or coat when out for winter walks or while playing in the snow. A good coat should reach from the neck to the base of the tail and also protect the belly. But remember that coats will not prevent frostbite on the ears, feet or tail … so even with a cozy coat, don’t keep your boxer out too long in freezing temperatures.
2. Protect your dog’s paws.
Winter can be brutal on our dog’s paw pads. Exposed to the elements and toxic chemicals, the paw pads are at risk for drying, cracking, trauma, frostbite and chemical burns. Luckily, there are some products out there that can help keep your dog’s paws happy and healthy this winter.
Booties. If you’re thinking, “My boxer’s not going to wear booties,” you’d be surprised. Sure, there’s a learning curve (and a whole lot of laughter) —but boots are great for protecting your dog’s paws against tough winter terrain. Even Iditarod sled dogs wear booties—and they’re bred and trained to pull sleds through Alaskan winters.
Alternatively, you could go the Iditarod route and apply a thin layer of Musher’s Secret wax or another paw balm just before going out on your wintery walk. After the walk apply another layer of balm to soothe any irritation and to keep them from drying out.
Prefer to make your own or perhaps give as a gift? Here’s a recipe we love:
Homemade Paw Balm
1/4 cup olive oil
2.5 Tbsp organic shea butter
1 Tbsp beeswax
4.5 tsp. pine resin (collected or ordered online)
3 tsp marigold (don’t have any? ask your neighbor if they have some in their garden)
1 small jam glass to store the cream
Put all the ingredients together in the glass.
To melt and combine the ingredients, put the glass inside a bowl of hot water for approximately 30 minutes (being careful not to get any water into your mixture).
When you notice the cream starting to get a medium consistency (not too thick and not too runny), take it out, put it in another glass and leave it to cool down.
All these ingredients are very powerful when used together; some have anti-inflammatory properties, while others have a calming effect on the skin. The balm can be applied anytime; after a bath, after exposure to cold air, or just before you put on your dog’s booties.
3. Salt and De-icers Can Be Toxic
Be aware that salt and most ice melt can be toxic to our canine friends. Try to keep your dog away from roads and sidewalks that have been heavily treated with salt and chemical de-icers. One simple solution: Only use pet-safe ice melt or salt on your own sidewalks and driveway. ECOS™ Ice Melt is made with a mineral-based powder, so it’s safer if your puppy gets it on his paws. You can also try Safe Paw Non-Toxic Ice Melter Pet Safe.
Immediately after a walk, wash your dog’s paws with warm water to help prevent them from ingesting any salt or chemicals that may be on their paws. While outdoors, do not let your dog eat slush or drink from puddles near heavily treated roads and sidewalks.
4. Make sure your dog gets exercise.
If the frigid temps have you shortening your dog’s walks—either because it’s too cold for you or your pup —remember your boxer still needs adequate exercise in the winter.
Play catch a snowball or teach your dog a new trick, practice nose work or play around inside to burn off some of that “boxer energy”. An exercised dog is a content dog, and when you “work out” with him, his behavior will probably be better as well.
5. No overfeeding please!
Although dogs may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust their calories accordingly. A high quality, whole foods, preferably raw meat based diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months.
6. Make sure your dog is on a leash at all times—especially in the snow.
Animals get lost more often during the winter, for several reasons. Snow on the ground can be disorienting to dogs if they’re not accustomed to it. Snowfall can diminish a dog’s senses and visual cues, which makes it tougher for a dog to find his way home.
Road safety is especially important in winter. If your dog is walking on the road in bad weather, inclement weather, or even just at night, drivers will have a harder time seeing him. We recommend your dog wear some kind of reflective gear to keep you and your dog visible.
7. Avoid exposure to antifreeze
With winter comes antifreeze, and, unfortunately, it smells kind of like maple syrup, so it’s enticing to dogs. Antifreeze is extremely toxic and just a small amount can be fatal. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where they may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals.
8. Provide plenty of water.
Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as in summer, so fresh, running water is vital for maintaining your dog’s health. Although many dogs eat snow, it should not be a substitute for fresh water. Keep an eye on the water bowls and make sure your pup always has enough to drink.
I don't want to overwhelm ya, so I'll stop there for now. But if you're like me when I'm at Costco and the free-sample fairies are out, then you'll be digging right into this resource like there's no tomorrow!
Enjoy the holiday and those winter adventures with your pup!