Keeping warm this winter is something I seem to struggle with. It's been really cold here by us in Cape Town S.A. with the snow covering the mountain tops. I have come to realise that we here in South Africa are actually not equipped to handle cold weather. We struggle to find warm enough jackets and most of us do not have central heating in our homes. Even my dogs are curled up.

But I am not complaining as I can see an overall burst of energy in my dogs even on days that it is raining they all are like bouncy balls. Especially Ice, she is just always ready for some play action!

Even though they are play full and happy to be rid of our scrunching summer sun, we still need to keep them warm. Imagine wearing a coat and still feeling cold, that's rather easy to relate too...well it is just the same for our dogs. Even though some of them have thick coats like our Northern breed of dog there are many who don't and even those with thick coat can get pretty cold.

Old age For our older dogs Arthritis is worse this time of year which I can relate to as I am recuperating from a c-section. And the older the dogs are the harder it is to maintain body heat. So even though your dog was maybe fine last winter sleeping outside, he might not be doing okay this time around.

Diet We all like warm hearty soups and stews this time of year. This is the time to up the energy with some added fat and protein especially if your dog is sleeping outdoors or is very active in this season. But remember with a light touch you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs.

Grooming Do not bath your dogs on cold days, choose a hot sunny day but only if really needed. The best is to just regularly comb your dog. Some bread with little fur could do with a warm fleece coat at night time. But make sure that your dog will not turn around to eat his way out of his coat.

Immune Add some vitamins and omega oils to your dog’s diet to build up a strong immune system. This is really the time to give your dog the best food that you can provide him with. Add extras like cooked pumpkin it not only helps cure diarrhea and constipation but also helps to fill your dogs belly and is a good source of fiber.

Sleeping Quarters Provide your dog with a warm bed sheltered away from the rain and wind. In very cold regions check your dog’s feet regularly to ensure that it is in a good condition and also dry wet fur if it stays wet too long.

Staying Active Stay warm and keep on exercising. The best way to get warm is to stay active. Remember to start training slowly as you do not want to burn your dog out on your first run. It's just like any training we would do for sport.

So mostly what ever you would like this winter is more or less what your 4 legged friends would also want.

My book "Winter Dogs" Living with Huskies as pet dogs will be available soon in selected book stores and online.

First Review:

Louise, I have learned so much! You have put together a wonderful book. It is very organized, well thought out, and very informative. You give great practical examples and it was a fun read, even for a non dog owner like myself. I LOVE animals and one day my hope is to live on a ranch with lots of animals, including a few dogs. It was truly a joy to read your book.

—Darya CPDC Editor (USA).

Mushers Convention-27 June 2010