Five smart tips for surviving cold winters.

By Nellah Bailey McGough and Patricia S York

Give a Dog a Home

Start with a basic structure that has a floor, roof, and sides to block out the wind and rain. Be sure to rotate it seasonally. During the winter, the opening should face south to avoid exposure to cool north winds. In the summer, turn the shelter toward the east so the opening faces away from the blazing afternoon sun.

Watch the Thermometer

On sunny days, it's okay to leave dogs outside in temps below 32 degrees, but when nighttime temperatures drop below freezing, bring them indoors. On rainy and windy days, be sure to monitor both the temperature and windchill, which accounts for moisture in the air. Once the windchill dips under 32 degrees, pets should be brought inside.

Beware of Chemicals

Antifreeze has a sweet taste that dogs love, but it's deadly. Keep all antifreeze containers out of reach of animals, and check under your car for any leaks. Call your veterinarian right away if your dog has ingested antifreeze or you suspect that he has. Deicing chemicals and salt used on roads can also be harmful to dogs. Wipe off your pet's paws after walks to keep him from licking the chemicals and to prevent his skin from absorbing them.

True Fit Dog Coat
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez

Accessorize Accordingly

Many shorthaired dogs aren't able to keep warm in the winter, especially when it snows. Inspired by water-resistant horse covers, this extra layer is perfectly suited for extreme winter weather. From $48.95;

Stick to Your Routine

One of our veterinary experts, Dr. Mark Miller with Cahaba Valley Animal Clinic in Birmingham, says, "Unless you live in a place with extreme weather, like upper Michigan or Canada, keep your pet's food intake the same during winter." Even though days are shorter and temperatures are colder, you should also maintain your dog's regular exercise routine."