If your dog is used to taking a walk each day, there’s no reason to interrupt your walks due to cold and wintery weather. But there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure your dog is safe and comfortable. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Take Shorter Walks: Most larger dogs can tolerate up to 30 minutes in cold weather. For smaller dogs, that time drops to 15 to 20 minutes. If the temperature drops to single digits, stay inside. Just because your dog has a protective covering of hair doesn’t mean hypothermia is not a threat. Know your dog and watch for signs that he/she might be getting cold.
- Use a Leash: A leash is a must, especially on sidewalks and paths near roads. Using a leash will help you steer your dog away from salt, ice melt and antifreeze. It will also keep your dog from getting out of sight and potentially lost. And you will be able to better monitor your dog’s tolerance to the cold.
- Doggie Sweaters and Boots: Doggie sweaters and boots are not only cute, but they also add an extra layer of protection from the cold. And the boots can protect the paws from ice and salt.
- Watch the Paws: We’ve already discussed staying away from salt, ice melt and antifreeze. It is important to keep a close eye on your dog’s paws not only from irritants, but you should also pay close attention to potential cracks and cuts. If your dog has long hair on his/her paws, winter is a good time to keep that hair trimmed. Salt and snow can get stuck in the hair and cause irritation and drying. After every walk, carefully inspect your dog’s paws and dry them thoroughly. If you see signs of cracking and irritation, be sure to use a pet safe moisturizer.
- Daytime is Best: Walk your dog when visibility is greatest. Especially if you are in a busy traffic area. If nighttime is your only option, make sure you have reflective gear both for your dog and yourself. This is even more critical if you are walking near snow covered roads where drivers may not have enough time to react without losing control of their vehicle if they don’t see you until the last second.
- Don’t Let Your Dog Eat the Snow: Dog’s have a natural love of licking snow and drinking out of puddles. If you are out in the middle of a field that might not be a problem but sidewalks along streets and driveways are a completely different issue. Don’t risk allowing your dog to ingest road salt, ice melt or antifreeze. All of these are potentially deadly.
- Protect that Belly: Dogs love to romp in the snow. But did you know that a bare dog belly can increase the threat of hypothermia? If the snow is high enough to touch your dog’s belly, keep the exposure time short. Even if you are using a doggie sweater, you still need to keep the time short. When the sweater gets wet from dragging in the snow, the increased risk of hypothermia is still a threat.
Following these tips will help ensure your winter doggy walks are safe and fun. For more tips, be sure to check out the articles referenced below.