My sweet Bella is a Basset Hound. Built close to the ground, she has an intimate relationship with the earth. It brings joy to her nose, with so much to sniff and discover. But in December of 2020, Maine was blanketed under two feet of snow, and Bella pointed her nose to the sky to keep it above the cold white fluffy stuff. When winter drifts are that deep, where is a height-challenged dog supposed to poop?
Some dogs love bounding through the deep snow after a blizzard, but even some tall dogs are temperamental about doing their duty when they have to plant their butt in the fluffy stuff to pee. So how can we get those winter-wary dogs to poop in the snow?
Here are 7 snowy suggestions to help your dog poo or pee in winter.
- Shovel the stuff away. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s understandable that some dog parents would rather stay in their warm slippers and let their dogs wade out into inches of new snow to get their early morning business done. If your dog is growing less and less enthusiastic about leaving their bed when you cheerfully ask “Wanna go out?” – it may be because they would rather endure a full bladder than an icy butt. It only takes a few minutes to shovel a dog-sized spot in the lawn, so buy some easy slip-on boots and get a bit of winter exercise before your morning coffee.
- Use pet-safe salt alternatives to melt ice. Have you ever gotten salt in a cut? Yow! Ice-melting rock salt burns paw pads and tastes just awful when your pup tries to chew their paws clean. It’s also dangerous to ingest. Use pet and plant safe alternatives, and wipe your dog’s paws with a warm damp cloth when you come back inside after trekking across neighborhood sidewalks.
- Waxy foot protection products for dogs like Musher’s Secret can help protect your dog’s paws from the elements. Your pup may even enjoy the gentle foot massage when you apply it.
- Try baby socks or booties. If your landlord insists on pouring ouchy salt over the sidewalk or your dog just hates any contact with ice and snow, how about winter footgear? Introduce socks or booties slowly inside the house, a paw at a time, until your dog is comfortable wearing them.
- Snuggle up in a warm sweater. If your thin-furred best friend cringes in the icy wind, get them a simple, comfy sweater. Tempt them with treats and gentle handling when you snug it over their body the first few times, so they welcome rather than dread bundling up for potty time. Bella walked like I'd dressed her in a harness of thorns when we upgraded from a basic collar (after leading half the neighborhood and mailman on a merry chase, when we were gone for the day), but she’s now fine with something touching her ‘undercarriage’.
- A sling can help your senior dog feel more secure in the snow. If your dog is getting older or is recovering from surgery, they probably would appreciate a little help staying on their feet, especially if they need to navigate icy stairs. A sling like Kurgo’s Up and About Dog Lifter can help both you and your dog get through the winter with a lot less anxiety.
- Give your pup an indoor potty option. If your dog absolutely refuses to do their business outdoors due to weather aversion, infirmity, or anxiety, you can find products to help protect your home:
- Pee pads are a great first option. They are available at pet stores, big box stores, and even many dollar stores. Disposable bed protectors for humans work just as well, if the pet supply aisle is empty.
- Commercial indoor potty boxes come in all sorts of configurations, often mimicking the look and feel of grass.
Here’s a tip to make winter poo easier on you, too
Pick up poo as you go. It’s SO tempting to just let the next layer of clean white snow cover up the evidence of last night’s dump. But the poo-bill will come due in a big way after that first spring thaw. Those nice compact turds that would have been so simple to pick up as soon as they popped out of your pup will magically multiply into a thousand misshapen heaps all over your yard, come spring.
In the rainy winters of the Pacific Northwest, it’s tempting to leave poo pick-up until the next sunny day. But let’s face it. You may not see the sun peek through the clouds for weeks! Buck up and pick up daily, and you have to deal with rain-melted poo when the winter sun finally makes an appearance.
Keep your dooloop and a supply of compostable poop bags close at hand even if your dog is only doing their winter business a few feet away from the front door. Come spring, you’ll smell the sweet fresh scent of new grass on the first warm breezes – not a whole winter’s worth of dog doo!
Have you come up with an ingenious idea to help your dog poop in the snow?
Post your idea or pics on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag us @dooloopdogs!