Tips for Dog Walking in Winter
As the cold weather continues, it is important that we keep our four-legged family members safe during winter walks and outings. If you have any specific concerns about your dog in Winter, it is always best to consult your trusted vet for advice.
Make sure your microchip is up to date
It is very important to note that you must have your dog microchipped with contact information up to date, in case they decide to go ‘walkies’ without you. The same goes for their collar identification.
Cold weather, especially snow, can be disorientating for dogs, and it can make it harder to navigate home if they get out.
If you are not sure on how to change your microchip details, contact your provider who inserted it for more information.
Is it too cold for your dog?
Before embarking on a walk, make sure the weather is suitable for your dog. Some breeds have higher cold thresholds than others, and this is something you should read up on to get a better understanding for your dog’s breed. Our furry friends have ways of letting us know that they are too cold, like lifting or licking their paws excessively, shivering, and whining.
You may need to consider some dog boots, socks, or coats for them to keep them warm. As each dog varies, these may not be an option if they don’t like to wear a coat or something on their feet. Consider growing out their coat a little longer for extra Winter insulation or using paw wax for their feet.
If it is too cold to go outside, get some alternative exercise indoor through play time, or even learning some new tricks (we have a few here) for mental stimulation.
Not every dog will tolerate wearing a coat, so look into the best option for your pooch
Keep walks short and in the daytime
When the weather is especially cold, it is a good idea to keep walks to be shorter and more frequent, instead of one big, long walk.
If possible, a daytime walk is safer. It is likely to be warmer for your dog (and you!), and you will be more visible to any traffic in daylight. If this is not always possible, make sure you and your dog are well seen and prepared for a walk in the dark.
A reflective leash or collar for your dog is a good option, and ensuring you are wearing reflective clothing to be seen by oncoming vehicles.
Post walk wipe down in Winter
Using a warm damp, cloth and a dry towel, wipe your dog’s paws, legs, and stomach after your walk. This will get rid of any grit from the roads, dampness that would stay in their coat, or anything else from their walk that might irritate them.
This is also a good time to use a pet safe skin conditioner or paw wax to prevent their paws drying out. Winter air and conditions can make paws rough, cracked, and sometimes split. Ensure what you use is non-toxic and safe for your pet (as they might lick their paws after). Your vet can help advise you on the best product.
Getting any grit, damp and coldness off your dog post walk is important for a happy pup
Antifreeze, frostbite, and other winter woes
- Antifreeze is poisonous to dogs. It can leak from a car radiator, or spill onto the ground after being sprayed on frozen windscreens. Be wary of your dog sniffing it out for a taste on a walk, and if you have any, keep it stored well out of their reach. Even a small amount can be fatal.
- Frostbite can appear on our dog’s ears, nose, foot pads and tails. It usually shows as cold, pale and hard skin, turning red and puffy after warming up. If you suspect your dog has frostbite, ring your vet immediately for medical advice. Do not let them lick, scratch or chew at the affected area until treatment is received to prevent permanent damage.
- Watch out for icy paths, hidden trip hazards in the snow and metal objects you may come across on your walks (we don’t want any tongues stuck to lampposts after a lick!).
- Consider food intake if your dog is less active in the Winter months as they may need to reduce their food intake to reduce weight gain. Equally, if they are still as active as usual in the Winter, they may need a little more food as they are using more energy in the cold. We do have a feeding guide at Naturo, but we recommend talking to your vet, or using the PFMA calorie calculator for a more accurate result based on your dog’s individual needs.
As always, remain vigilant and watch your dog closely during the colder months. They should not be outside for long periods of time (especially not unattended) and it is always best to keep them on a lead during harsher weather conditions for added safety.