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Winter

Pug Dog Winter Care

Overview

One of the trickiest and most challenging times to take care of a Pug of any age is during the wintertime. Freezing rains, harsh winds, dry inside air and maybe even sweeping snowstorms are some of the winter elements that you’ll need to contend with for several months.

When you add to that shorter, darker days and near or below freezing temperatures, it really amounts to needing a good plan and follow-through in regard to Pug dog winter care.

And while it is never too late to start (if you’re stuck inside during a blizzard right now and have just realized how winter is taking a toll on your Pug), it is really best to plan for the winter season in advance. 

There are many issues that can crop up before you realize what’s happening and with many winter-related problems it is easier  to handle things if you know what’s coming and how to prep for them. 

This section will cover all important aspects that will help you and your Pug survive (and maybe even enjoy) the winter season. 

Winter Related Problems for the Pug Dog

1) Freezing temperatures & winter weather gets in the way of proper exercise

This is a huge winter issue for many dog owners and it doesn’t take that long for their canine companions to really feel the frustration of this. When temperatures plummet and/or there’s winter precipitation, taking your Pug outside enough can be tricky. 

And while it may seem at first that cuddling inside for the season may very well be the right choice, this can quickly tumble into all sorts of issues.3 major things can happen with this:
pug-dog-in-winter-with-coat-on
  • If a dog’s activity is limited and he’s inside much more than usual, the canine equivalent of cabin fever can set in. Dogs can become sullen and moody and for some, even depressed. 
  • Others can become agitated, frustrated and/or bored, which can manifest as such things as destructive chewing or nervous behavior. 
  • Weeks or months of decreased activity is just terrible for a breed that needs to exercise to maintain proper weight and muscle density. If a Pug stays inside all winter, it can take months for him to get back his former stamina and in the meantime, he may gain weight which is not a good thing for a brachycephalic breed in which even a few extra pounds can increase breathing issues.  
How to resolve this:

1. Help your Pug stay warm. While outdoor gear has always been used (at least in the modern era) for working dogs (guard dogs, service dogs, military dogs), in the past few years pet owners have also been realizing how functional this is for their canine family members to endure harsh winters. 

If a dog’s body core stays warm, he will stay much warmer. A quality vest, parka or jacket that covers a Pug’s back, flanks and stomach can help him tolerate colder temperatures. And while you should stay in if there is a raging blizzard or sub-freezing temperatures, placing clothing on your Pug is just the thing that can allow you to take him for 20 to 30 minute walks and outside for bathroom needs without issue. 

Note: Be sure to choose a vest or coat that has a leash attachment o-ring, as our recommended coats & vest have. 
2. Follow the same advice for yourself. You don’t really need a hat, boots, scarf and gloves, right? If you want to ensure that your Pug exercises enough and beats cabin fever in the winter, you do! It’s very common for owners to cut walks and outside time short if they themselves are freezing. So, bundle up both you and your Pug to be able to enjoy (or at least tolerate) being outside in the winter.

3. Adjust walking times. During the hot summer season, it is advisable to walk in the early morning and late evening; however, this is not really the best for wintertime. It can often be 20 degrees colder in the morning and in the dead of winter the sun can set before you even eat dinner. On many days, noon to 3 o’clock, when the sun is highest, is the warmest part of the day.

While two walks really are best, you may find it more viable to have one longer walk midday, on days that you are home to do so. On days that you are working, one long walk as soon as you arrive home may be best. 

And of course, adjust as needed based on the weather forecast.
2) The snow gets in the way of your Pug’s outdoor area.  

One of the most important elements to both house train a puppy and keep a trained dog on course is to have one designated bathroom area. But maybe the spot that you chose worked great in the spring, summer and fall but in the winter feels like the equivalent of crossing Alaskan territory. 

In addition, aside from walks to stay healthy, having an area in the yard for a dog to play in (fetch, chase, etc.) is a great way for a dog to release pent-up energy and receive some fresh air.

How to resolve this:

1. Move the area if needed. If your Pug’s normal spot is just too difficult to reach in the winter, you’ll need to choose a new one that is more easily accessible. 

2. Keep ahead of the snow. Digging out 4 feet of snow is much harder than shoveling 6 inches at a time; so once you’ve chosen which outdoor spot will be your Pug’s area for the winter season, keep a shovel handy and try to clear as soon as possible, not allowing snow to build up.

3. Although, some snow is not necessarily bad. Dogs can play in the snow and some really love to do so. The important care tip to keep in mind is that canines can and do develop hypothermia in as little as 30 minutes. Young puppies, older dogs (8+ years), small breeds and those not bred for the outdoors are more susceptible to hypothermia than others. 

Dogs that love the snow can easily become really hyped up having fun and you won’t realize that there’s a problem until his body temperature has already dropped. A low temperature of 97.6 to 99.6° F (36.4 to 37.6°C) is consider the danger range for dogs. 

So, just keep sessions timed to 20 to 25 minutes, always supervise your Pug, and protect him as needed (outer gear and paw wax; more ahead on the wax).
pugs-in-winter-snow
The best paw wax & the best nose balm to protect your Pug in the winter:
3) Winter weather wreaks havoc on a dog’s paws and nose. 

This is one of those problems that can creep up and when you finally notice, the Pug’s paws are super dry and cracked and/or his nose is raw and chapped or cracked as well. 
  • Winter surfaces can be brutal on a dog’s paws. Freezing ground temperatures, small ice pebbles that get stuck between the pads and salt and ice melt chemicals can destroy layers of paw skin. Even if you do not use ice melt or salt at home, many city municipal services do, and cars can track this into your neighborhood and these cause chemical burns. 
What to do: Apply paw wax to your Pug’s paws to protect them throughout the winter. If your Pug’s paws are already dry, peeling or cracked, there are a couple of great paw wax balms that will heal issues as well. 

You’ll want to use a product that absorbs quickly and dries fast to add a layer of breathable protection from harsh winter elements. If your Pug goes outside every day, and there is NO snow, apply the paw wax 1 time per week. If there IS snow, apply the wax 2 to 3 times per week, making sure to carefully apply it in between the toes to prevent ‘snowballing’ (when tiny pebbles split the sensitive skin between dogs’ paws).  

The best time to apply paw wax to your Pug is at night, once he has settled down and is soon to go to sleep.
  • Winter weather can be brutal on a dog’s nose. It’s vicious cycle that can assault a dog’s nose all through the winter season: dry, cold air preps the nose to be vulnerable. Then, a Pug will lick his nose (most owners don’t notice how often this is done; dogs do very fast flicks – hundreds a day- so fast that it’s barely perceivable to the human eye unless you are staring directly at your dog) … And then, the moisture from that along with cold winds, can quickly cause the nose to chap.
Once a dog’s nose is chapped, without treatment, it often worsens. The canine nose has only 3 layers of epidermis (just the top one has grooves) and it can quickly peel off, exposing the pink layer underneath.

Cracked noses can become infected, causing the skin to split and/or ooze. And there can be crusting issues as well. 

What to do: Plan ahead to prep your Pug for winter by using a quality nose balm. This is a great care item to have in the summer to prevent sunburn, and is also fantastic in the wintertime to protect from dryness, chapping, peeling, cracking and crusting. 
  • If your Pug already has a damaged nose from the winter, a good snout balm can heal as well. When you apply the product, expect dead skin to fall off. With constant use (2 to 3 times a day), it will help regenerate the nose skin.
  • If cracks are so bad that they are bleeding and/or if oozing pus is constant or colored, these are signs of infection that warrants a vet visit. 
  • If your Pug does not yet have nose damage and you use a product to protect, apply a balm 1 or 2 times per day. Do not worry if your Pug licks at it (a quality butter such as Snout Soother is safe to lick at and a portion of it will be absorbed quickly) and make sure that one application is at night right, before he goes to sleep. 
4) Arid winter air affecting a Pug’s breathing and skin/coat.

Dry air can really do a number on a dog, especially a brachycephalic breed like the Pug. Air contains moisture, and the colder the air, the less moisture it can hold. So, winter air is very dry. Even though you keep your house warm in the winter, adding heat to the air does not add moisture. 

It predominately can affect a Pug in two ways:

1. Breathing issues. Dry throat passages can lead to an increase in snoring and can increase noises like wheezing and gasping

2. Skin issues. The Pug is already prone to several skin problems, and winter does not make this any better. Dry air can very quickly cause a Pug’s skin to become dry as well, which can lead to itchiness and peeling… And in some cases, this can domino into thinning fur. 

What to do: 

1. Add moisture to the air in your house. The easiest and fastest method (though not the cheapest) is to use humidifiers. However, there are some energy efficient models. When looking for a wintertime humidifier, keep the square footage of your house in mind; various models handle various room sizes. If you cannot cover the entire house, it can help to place one beside your Pug’s sleeping area. Place this 4 to 6 foot away, taking care that the cords cannot be reached.

If you do obtain a humidifier to help your Pug in the winter, do please read the cleaning instructions; humidifiers need to be properly cleaned on schedule to prevent mold from growing inside of them. 

Other methods that can add some level of moisture back into the air include adding houseplants, leaving the bathroom door open when you shower and leaving out bowls of water (best when placed over heating elements). 

2. Stay on track with baths, using the right products. 
  • While a Pug may not get as dirty in the winter and he may in other seasons, you will still want to bathe him every 3 weeks. This serves two main purposes: To rid the body of accumulated body oils that can start to smell and to apply a soothing, effective shampoo and conditioner for good skin and coat health. 
  • Proper pH balance is vital for a dog’s skin and coat to retain proper moisture. And elements such as aloe and oatmeal can add an extra boost of hydration to fight against the winter air as well. 
  • If your Pug has very itchy, dry and/or peeling skin, you may opt for a specialty shampoo or an anti-itch spray to resolve that issue before it escalates into a larger problem. 
  • Since dry air can cause both static issue and contact friction issues, using a leave-in spritz can protect the coat from becoming dry and brittle. Choose a quality spray that shields the fur from winter elements, but does not add oils or weigh the fur down. 

Other Quick Winter Tips for Pug Dog Care

1. Steer clear of puddles. During any days during the winter that snow starts to melt or as winter is nearing an end, keep your Pug away from puddles. Ingesting water from melting puddles is dangerous; there can be ice melt chemicals which are toxic and parasites like Giardiasis which is a leading cause of diarrhea in canines. 

2. Stay on top of shedding. As winter approaches a Pug can shed as a thicker winter coat grows in. During the winter, that thick coat will cycle over which can create a slew dead hairs and as the season is winding down, the dense coat can shed in anticipation of spring. So, you’ll want to brush your Pug on a regular basis. The best brush for a Pug in the winter is a bristle brush at least every other day along with a de-shedding tool/brush every 1 or 2 weeks. 

3. Plan ahead to prevent winter doldrums. Even if you are committed to taking your Pug out in the winter and have prepared for that, shorter days and severe weather most likely will impede on those plans for a certain number of days through the season. 

Plan ahead by having a great supply of new toys that are not given out until you’re both trapped inside. And while it is easy to decide to binge watch a show over a weekend indoors and your Pug will not complain about resting right alongside you, do set aside some breaks for interactions such as fetch down a hallway or playing a game in which you hide a treat and encourage him to find it. 

4. Double check for drafts. Check your Pug’s favorite resting areas that may have worked out fine during other times of the year but may be in the line of drafts in the winter. Be sure to get down on his level to check for this. 

A Final Word

Whether you love winter or hate it, it just can’t be avoided unless you are lucky enough to own a warm-weather get-away. So, the best way to handle taking care of a Pug puppy or dog in the winter is to plan in advance and know how to respond to issues that can occur. 
Did you find these care tips for Pugs to be helpful? If so, you will love The GIANT Book of Pug Care, available in both hard copy and eBook.
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