Boxers generally delight in a wintery playground, but should never stay out too long.
Temperature is just the most obvious of several potential hazards to be aware of if you’re living in a cold climate with your Boxer or visiting the snow.
Cold Weather Hazards For Boxer Dogs
Wintertime can be lots of fun for your Boxer as long as you take a few precautions to avoid:
- Prolonged time in freezing conditions
- Chemical burns/poisoning from snow melt products
- Injuries from slipping on ice
- Paw damage from sharp shards of ice
- Chipped nails from hard ice
- Dry air and other indoor hazards
- Overheating (from winter clothing and heated interiors)
- Eye irritation from whipping winds
- Lack of exercise, weight gain
1. Can Boxers Tolerate Cold Weather?
While Boxers tend to struggle more with heat than cold, their short coats leave them vulnerable to both extremes.
Their lean body mass and low body fat means they have little insulation against the elements.
For this reason, not to mention their need to be with their people, Boxers are not cut out to be outside dogs. This goes double in winter.
Boxers can suffer hypothermia just as people can.
Ears and tails are prone to frost bite.
If your Boxer is very young, old or unwell he may have extra difficulty regulating his body temperature.
As a general rule, if you’re cold … your Boxer will be too.
If you’re rugging up, consider a coat for your Boxer.
Coats For Boxer Dogs
When choosing a winter coat for your Boxer look for:
- Natural materials
- Function not fashion
- A good fit on the deep chested Boxer figure
- Easy clean fabrics
- Waterproof exterior
- Durable design
2. Snow Melt Products: A Danger To Your Boxer
Salt and other chemicals applied to thaw snow can burn your Boxer’s paws or cause poisoning if he licks those paws, ingesting the chemical.
Wash your dog’s feet in tepid water and mild soap like Dr Bronner’s unscented baby castille soap when he comes indoors, to remove any residues.
Is It Safe For Boxers To Eat Snow?
Eating snow is safe — unless that snow is tainted with chemicals.
It’s probably best discouraged in urban environments but fine in the country or on your own property.
3. Injuries From Slipping On Ice
The zoomies on ice can be hilarious — but also dangerous.
There’s a difference, too, between having a romp in soft drifts of freshly fallen snow and slipping and sliding on icy sidewalks.
Falling awkwardly on ice is as painful for dogs as for humans and can leave your Boxer with a muscle strain, ligament tear or worse.
4. Paw Damage
Paw pads are just skin, albeit thicker than on the rest of the body.
Sharp shards of ice can or half buried protruding objects can cut your Boxer’s paw pads.
Snow can wedge between the toes or in the paw pads, melt and refreeze, stretching the skin, in a painful effect called “Snowballing”.
How Long Can Boxers’ Paws Last In The Snow?
Boxers have a high pain threshold and are very stoic so aren’t likely to complain.
Don’t leave it up to your Boxer to decide when enough is enough.
Keep exposure to the elements brief, before giving your Boxer a chance to warm up inside or in a heated car.
You may want to consider insulated dog boots to provide warmth, grip and protection.
Make sure they’re the right size and shape, as ill fitting boots can cause more problems than they solve.
Paw ointments like musher’s wax developed for sled dogs can provide a barrier against the cold and chemicals/salt.
Check the ingredients to ensure they’re all natural and non toxic, as the wax will absorb into the paw pads.
5. Chipped Nails From Hard Ice
Hard edged ice or submerged objects can tear nails, so be sure to keep your Boxer’s nails trimmed.
6. Dry Air And Other Indoor Hazards
There’s less moisture in the air in winter.
Just as you may have noticed your own skin getting dry, so too can your Boxer’s nose, skin, paws and coat.
You may notice chapping, windburn, dryness, cracking and peeling.
Dry air can also cause breathing issues — you may notice your Boxer starts to snore.
When you heat your home, it adds warmth but not moisture.
Using a humidifier is the most effective way to deal with this.
Windows shut up against the cold also concentrate VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other common household pollutants that bring down indoor air quality.
Invest in a quality air purifier and periodically open the windows to get some air circulation.
Believe it or not, overheating is a risk to Boxers in winter.
Remember to take off your Boxer’s coat once he starts running around outside, or he’ll end up too hot.
Likewise, don’t overcrank the heater.
Always make sure your Boxer can move to a cooler part of the house if he chooses and watch for panting and other signs of distress.
Never leave your Boxer unattended with space heaters and fire places, which can burn your dog or be knocked over.
Carbon monoxide detectors are a good idea for your Boxer’s safety and your own.
8. Eye Irritation
With their wide open eyes and drooping lids, Boxers eyes are more vulnerable than most.
Stay inside during blizzards or freezing sleet.
9. Exercising Boxers In Winter: Not Optional
Boxers need plenty of exercise, regardless of the season.
If necessary, break your dog’s walks into several shorter trips outdoors, but don’t be tempted to skip them altogether.
On days when the weather makes being outdoors too unpleasant, there are plenty of indoor activities you can use to occupy your Boxer.
Brain games including nose work like “hide and seek”, tricks, training drills and canine enrichment toys will all engage a Boxer’s mind and tire him out faster than pure physical exertion.
Be ready to take the coat off once your Boxer starts running around, or he can overheat even in cold weather.
You may notice your dog’s appetite changes in winter. If your Boxer is exercising less, be sure to moderate his caloric intake to avoid weight gain.
Don’t stop giving raw meaty bones just because it’s too cold to eat them outside on the grass.
A mat with a waterproof cover will contain the mess indoors and afterwards you can just pop the cover in the wash.
How To Protect Your Boxer In Cold Weather: Extra Tips
A few things you may have overlooked:
- Make sure your dog’s water source doesn’t freeze over.
- You might want to make his bedding extra snug.
- When out and about, remember that leaving your dog in a cold car in winter can be just as dangerous as leaving him in a hot one in summer.
- You’ll likely notice an uptick in shedding at the start of winter and again when spring comes. This is triggered by the changes in daylight hours. Keep on top of it and remove old hairs with a weekly brush, using a grooming mitt.
- It’s a good idea to stock up on food for your Boxer in case you get snowed in for a few days to a week.
- Observe your dog, paying particular attention during the transition between seasons, and at the first cold snap.
Conclusion: Do Boxers Like Snow And Cold Weather?
Some owners describe their Boxers being reluctant or downright unwilling to go outside in cold weather, even to go potty.
If you’re standing in the warm doorway while asking him to go outside to do his business, don’t be surprised if your Boxer isn’t keen.
Be prepared to rug up and plunge into the snow together and chances are your Boxer will be all for it.