Feeding Dogs Over Winter
Dogs need some extra special care over winter. Ideally they should be kept inside for as long as possible, but with larger, energetic dogs this simply isn’t possible. Even after their dog house has been sufficiently insulated with straw or wood shavings they’re still going to be burning extra calories to deal with the cold. Depending on the hair, age, health and coat of the dog it may require even more calories as a result of the nippy weather, ranging from a measly 10 per cent more calories to a whopping increase of 90 per cent.
When reading the following advice, remember that if your dog spends the majority of time indoors it likely won’t need a change in diet, and over feeding pets over winter can lead to health issues later on. Ideally, while running your hand over your dog’s side you should be able to easily feel its ribs. If you can’t the dog has been overfed, and if the ribs are visible it may be starving.
Firstly, be sure to feed outdoors dogs more than usual. Unless you have enough experience from previous years to know exactly how much extra nutrition they need, slowly increase the size of their meals, ideally sticking to a maximum of three a day, however. Particularly energetic or cold dogs may find this initially lacking, so keep an eye out for any signs of underfeeding. If your dog is lethargic or tired compared to their normal personality they may be suffering from malnutrition. Up their amount of food until they’re more lively, and lower it back down if they then build up too much fat.
Of course, be sure to feed your dog nutritious and healthy food throughout. A feed with good amounts of protein and some fat is ideal. Dry food provides the most concentrated nutritional value, and is by far the cheapest way to feed hungry pets. Canned food on the other hand is much higher in fat and protein, along with moisture content of around 75 per cent. Think carefully on your dog’s diet, and remember that a little extra fat content may serve them well during the cold winter months.
Leading on from the moisture content of canned foods is the need to keep your dog topped up on water in the winter. They’re likely to dehydrate equally fast in the winter as in the summer, so be sure they’ve always got a supply handy. Have a water bowl left out at all times, and regularly top it up. When you head out for mealtimes it’s worth bringing the bowl back in, warming it up and refilling it. Even if the dog hasn’t finished their drink you’ll want to stop the bowl from freezing, which is stand a particularly good chance of doing overnight.
Keep your dog well fed, safe and exercised this winter, and it should get by without any discomfort at all.