Autarky's Winter Tips & Watch Outs

Keeping your working dog happy and healthy during the winter can be challenging. Here are Autarky’s top tips and watch outs for your active dog as the temperature drops.

Health & Nutrition


Cold weather can pose a challenge for a working dog’s sensitive paws. Salt and grit from the roads and tracks can get lodged between their toes and cause discomfort or even burns. Dog’s will often lick their feet to try and remove it, which in turn can cause damage to their mouth and digestive system. Always wash their feet when you return home to avoid this.

On a snowy day, be particularly careful with long-haired dogs to check for compacted snow between their toes. Trimming the hair between their toes (or asking a groomer to do it) can prevent them from clogging up with ice and dirt. Specially designed protective paw balms are also available, which help keep your dog’s pads healthy. Some working dogs’ benefit from wearing specially designed boots to protect the foot.

Keep your dog hydrated

Dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Always make sure they have access to fresh, clean and unfrozen water at all times.


Special attention should be made regarding the quantity of food you are giving your dog.

If your dog lives or works outside for extended periods of time, look at increasing their calorie intake to support them.

The reverse is applicable if your dog’s activity level decreases over the winter months.

Autarky provides different recipes to cater for this. Please contact us if you require further information on the best Autarky recipe to feed your dog.


This is especially relevant if your dog lives in kennels or works/exercises outdoors for extended periods of time. Hypothermia occurs when a dog spends too much time in the cold, gets wet in cold temperatures or when dogs with poor health or circulation are exposed to cold. Signs of hypothermia are as follows;

  1. To start, the dog will shiver, and their ears and feet will start to grow cold.
  2. As hypothermia progresses, they may show signs of depression, lethargy, and weakness.
  3. As the condition worsens, muscles will stiffen, heart and breathing rates slow down, and they will not respond to stimuli.

Severe hypothermia is life threatening. Always contact your vet if you think your dog may be suffering from hypothermia

To help prevent hypothermia;

  1. Ensure kenneled dogs are free from draughts and the elements and have plenty of warm bedding, ideally raised off the ground.
  2. Be mindful of your dog’s coat type/length vs outdoor temperatures. They may need additional layers to keep them warm, even when exercising/working.
  3. Don’t stand around outside too long, especially after your dog has been exercising/working.

Hidden Toxins


Anti-freeze is a danger at this time of year as it’s a very toxic substance which can drip from a vehicle’s radiator, where it can be licked off the ground by your dog. The same applies to de-icer. Antifreeze is attractive to dogs, and some will readily lick or drink it. Just a small amount can prove fatal. Keep your dog out of the garage and off the driveway where they may encounter antifreeze or other harmful chemicals. Also do not allow them to drink from puddles, as antifreeze and other chemicals may have drained into them. If you suspect that your dog has consumed anti-freeze or de-icer, always contact your vet. 

Rat & Mouse Poison

During the colder months, rodents look to keep warm. This can sometimes mean that they move into human spaces. Unfortunately, people often use commercial poisons to eliminate them. Mouse and rat poisons are designed to be attractive to rodents, but they often smell and taste good to your dogs too. There is also a risk your dog can pick up a poisoned rodent. These poisons are fatal to dogs so must be kept out of reach of them.

What to do if you think your dog has eaten something poisonous.

  • Take them to your vet immediately. Make sure to call ahead first to let them know you're on your way.
  • If possible, bring along a photo, or ideally a sample of what they have eaten taking care to keep it in a sealed container.

Other Risks To Be Aware Of

Alabama Rot

Alabama Rot is a rare but potentially life-threatening disease that affects dogs. It’s still unknown what causes Alabama Rot, but it’s believed to be related to walking in muddy and wet conditions. Alabama Rot causes problems with blood vessels in the skin and kidneys, and often first appears as unexplained marks, sores or ulcers, on dogs’ legs or paws. To prevent your dog from getting ill, experts recommend that you either keep dogs away from muddy areas or wash and dry them thoroughly after muddy or wet walks.

Frozen Water

Frozen lakes and rivers are a worry when the temperature drops below zero, so always keep your dog on-lead if you’re walking in a new area where the landscape is unknown to you or when exercising near a lake, river, pond or stream. If they do fall in, do not attempt to rescue them as you will be at risk also. Telephone 999 immediately to request help. It is useful to know exactly where you are so they can reach you quickly. The app, what3words, will give you an exact location that you can share with the emergency services.


These blood-sucking mites are more commonly found during the spring and autumn but can feed on dogs at any time of the year. Ticks can pick up diseases from one host and pass them onto another. One of which is Lyme disease, which can also affect humans.

After exercise in countryside, always check your dog for any strange lumps or bumps that could be a tick, particularly around their head, groin, armpits and feet.

These can be removed by a tick remover but be careful to remove the whole tick as you can easily leave the mouthparts behind which can infect the site. You can also purchase special tick-removing solutions. Do not use any solvents that may burn the skin.

Dark nights

As the evenings become darker earlier, it’s a good idea to help make you and your dog more visible. L.E.D lights and collars will help yourself and others see them at a distance, especially in the countryside where there is no artificial lighting. Make sure that your dog’s microchip details are up to date and that they’re wearing identification tags in case they get lost after dark.


Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now