We talk all the time about winter preparations we need to make, be it to the car or around the house. Although the weather has been unseasonably warm for much of the country, the official start of winter is right around the corner. Even though the weather thus far may have lulled you into a sense of complacency, there is no time like the present to make sure you and your rabbit dogs are prepared for the winter weather that is yet to come.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to the winter needs of your rabbit dogs. For example, depending on how and where you house them, they may need additional shelter or bedding to get them through when temperatures dip. As they work and play, it becomes essential to pay extra attention to the little things to ensure they are happy and healthy. When it comes to winter dog care, here are a few things to consider.
You may not regularly outfit your rabbit dogs in any kind of clothing, but if you live in an area that is particularly cold, investing in some boots or a vest could prove invaluable. These items will keep dogs warm and can prevent frostbite after a long day in the field, but they are also useful for protection. Remember that briars that are covered in leafy foliage during the spring and summer will be barren in winter and thus better able to cut and tear at dog flesh.
Photo: Riverbottom Beagles
Paying particular attention to paws when it gets cold is a must. Boots are great, but so is paw wax that can protect paws from the elements while at the same time offering healing and moisturizing qualities to dry paws. Apply the brand of your choice before time in the outdoors but be sure to still check and clean paws after time spent outside. You never know when a paw injury could strike, plus you want to ensure that paws are free from road salts and de-icing agents after every walk. If you notice injuries or irritation, be sure to clean and treat paws to prevent infection from taking hold.
Have you noticed that your skin gets dry and itchy in the winter? Well, you are not alone. Your rabbit dogs may be experiencing that exact same discomfort. A good way to add some nourishment to skin is by feeding fish oil. This comes in a gelatin capsule that can be ruptured and the contents spilled onto food. Before you know it, coats will be shiny and skin will be less dry. Do note, however, that since fish oil comes in gelatin capsules and gelatin has a beef origin, it can be a problem for dogs with certain food allergies if the capsule is consumed. To further help with winter dry skin, cut back on baths. Instead, using cleansing wipes or dry shampoo as needed.
Another thing we humans can relate to is gaining weight around the holidays. This is in large part due to all of the delicious food we are preparing, but it is also because when it is cold outside, many of us lounge around inside, decreasing our activity level. The same thing can happen to our rabbit dogs. As we relax, they relax and weight gain can result. It is important to keep up an exercise regimen even when you are not hunting rabbit for not only overall health but also to prevent boredom. If outdoor activity must be limited, try introducing new toys to keep dogs active. However, if you do notice weight gain, address the amount of dog food you are feeding. Less energy output means less calorie input is necessary, so consider trimming back on dog food and supplementing with green beans for a tasty calorie reduction.
The traditional standbys go without saying, such as making sure water bowls are clean and don't freeze, but overall winter care for rabbit dogs doesn't really mean much of a change. A lot of the things we must tend to in winter are things we should be tending to all year long, we just have to approach them from a different angle once it gets cold out. Enjoy your winter rabbit hunting, but take care to keep your rabbit dogs and yourself safe and warm at the same time!
What do you do to keep your rabbit dogs comfy and cozy in the cold? Do you have a winter prep checklist you go by each year? Tell us about it in the comments.