These are the dog days of winter, when all of the newness of snowfall and cozy coats has worn off and short, gray days line up one after another after another. Winter can wear on a person, and it can also wear on a dog. The remedy? Treat your dog to a late winter tune-up, a little refresh sesh to see him through until spring. Here's how:
Refresh his skin and coat with a nice, warm bath. Not only will the massage of suds feel great, but it will help slough off wintery dirt and dead skin. Go full-blown spa treatment and toss a towel into the dryer to warm while you wash. Drying off with a fluffy, warm towel is almost as good as an August afternoon. Almost.
Give him a paw-dicure. Salty winter sidewalks can be especially rough on paws, leaving them dry and cracked. Human lotions are a major no-no because they soften the pads too much, leaving paws prone to more damage. Look for dog-specific moisturizers and gently massage them into ailing pads. And after salty walks, always give paws a gentle rinse with warm water and a pat dry with a towel.
Less food, more water. We all have a tendency to bulk up a bit in winter, including our pets. But unlike our ancestors (human and canine alike) we don't need more food in winter to create an extra layer of insulation. What we need is more water. Dry winter air dehydrates, so keep the water dish full and refreshed all day long. (That goes for you too, human.)
Moisturize from the inside out. A winter treat of oil-rich sardines may not be your idea of a good time, but your dog will love it and those oils will add shampoo-commercial shine to his skin and coat.
Seek out sunshine and fresh air. When the clouds break and the temps rise above freeze-your-ass-off degrees, grab the leash and get outside. You're fully aware of your own Cabin Fever, but chances are, your dog's got it too. Even 15 minutes of sunlight can elevate mood-boosting hormones melatonin and serotonin in both of you.