It has been snowing in Chicago pretty much non-stop for three days. I'm gonna be completely honest with you, owning a dog during the winter is both the best and the worst. It's the best because you can successfully avoid cuffing season having a built in snuggle buddy all ready to go. The worst, because they still need walked even when it's 33 degrees and rain/snowing sideways and then they track their muddy little paws throughout your house if you forget to dry them off.
My dog, loooooves winter. Pretty sure that's because she's part wolf. Her love of winter and the snow is infectious, but I have to prepare myself a little more in order to say out with her as long as she would like. Here are a few of my essentials for surviving winter with your pooch.
1. Long down parka
The down parka is essential for winter in any cold city, but it's especially important if you're going to be walking a dog 3-4 times a day in the bitter cold. I love the parkas from Lands End. I got a long down parka from them that goes past my knees. It's like wearing a sleeping bag, but I stay toasty for at least a 30 minute walk.
2. Hat and Gloves
I'm more of a mittens person myself, but you cannot pick up dog waste with mittens on. To avoid having to take your gloves or mittens off, open your poo bags before you leave the house.
3. Warm boots with good traction.
My dog may only be 40 pounds but if it's icy and she suddenly decides she's gonna chase something, I will definitely slip and fall trying to pull her back. Speaking from experience. The warm part is also essential. Last year I just used my rain boots with a couple of layers of wool socks, but when you're walking for 30-40 minutes in negative temperatures or through the snow, you really need a boot that's made for winter.
4. Waterproof Winter Coat for Dogs
Ellie may be a double coated dog, but when the temp drops below 20, I still put a coat on her to help keep her warm on our warm walks. Double bonus, her coat is waterproof so when it's snowing or raining I have less dog to dry off when we get home. If your dog isn't double coated I would recommend a coat when it dips below 40.
5. Paw protection for you pup
Between salt, snow, and unbearable temps, there are a lot of environmental hazards to your dog. Ellie will just fall over in the snow when she gets too much salt and snow impacted in her paws. It's hilarious but also really sad. To help her enjoy her walks more, I use Musher's Secret wax to protect her paws and keep the snow and salt from building up. Some other dog owners have also recommend Salt Sox, and Ruffwear booties, though I don't think Ellie would enjoy booties your dog may.
5. Microfiber Towel
Snow, rain, ice, salt. All make for one dirty little pooch. Personally I don't want this tracked all over my house so I keep a microfiber towel by the back door to wipe Ellie down with before I release her into the house. I use microfiber because it really dries the dogs better and attracts the dirt away from their fur and their paws. I recently stumbled across a washable microfiber doormat that I'm for sure going to purchase as well. I'll let you all know how well it works after we've used it a few times.
6. Fuzzy blankets
Necessary for post cold walk snuggles. Ellie has a double coat, but she still loves to snuggle in our fuzzy blankets after a long walk.
Bonus tip: open a poop bag before you leave the house so that you don't have to take your glove off to get it open when you're out in the cold.
Shop my winter essentials below!