Walking Your Dog In The Winter
The winter months can be quite chilly and wet outside, as so, very limiting to what we do outdoors. Very different from our summer activities and the joys of walking our dogs in the warmth and sunlight. As winter approaches, we alter our routines, and this applies to how long and often we walk our dogs outdoors.
Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, so in the winter months, we pay a little more attention to how the weather conditions affect them.
Below you'll find suggestions on how to safely and successfully walk your dog in the winter without subjecting them to the harsh climate and the conditions that come with it. So lets dive into winter dog walking:
Dogs tend to burn more calories in the winter months just by trying to stay warm, and due to this, we can alter the length of their walks. Always gauge how your dog is feeling by their behaviour. You should know if they want to stop or keep going based on how they are walking.
Dress Them For The Weather
You wouldn't go out in freezing temperatures without a winter jacket, so why should your dog? Yes, some dogs bare a thick coat and are great in cold climates, but not all dogs are, and we need to be mindful of that. If your dog has a thin coat or is shaved, dress them for their walks. If your dog tolerates boots, these can be a game-changer for winter dog walking. Their paws can dry out and crack, which is extremely painful, so keeping them protected in the winter is essential.
For more information on winter paw care check out our article 8 Important Winter Safety Tips For Dogs.
Always Wash Their Paws After A Walk
A lot of toxic chemicals can be found on the ground throughout the winter months. Frequently, people use anti-freeze, coolant and salt at this time of the year. Anti-freeze, coolant, and salt are poisonous to dogs, so as a safety precaution, make sure you wash and wipe your dog's paws and stomach after each walk. If they get these chemicals on their fur, they will be inclined to lick it off, which can pose a severe health risk.
Don't Let Your Dog Eat Snow
Just as you need to wipe your dog down after each walk to prevent them from licking potentially toxic chemicals off of their fur, the same goes for eating snow. They could ingest anti-freeze, coolant, and salt just the same if they were to eat snow. These chemicals are often sprayed or tossed into the open air, so they are more likely to fall in the areas your dog can reach.
Expend The Extra Energy Indoors
Some dogs simply don't tolerate the cold and may even refuse to walk outside in the winter. If this is the case, or if you've just decided to shorten the length of their walks, make sure you allocate more playtime for them indoors to expend that extra energy.
Use Reflective Clothing / Accessories
In the winter, it gets dark out a lot earlier, so to make yourself and your dog visible to cars and by-passers, try to wear reflective clothing and accessories. Wearing bright/reflective clothing and using a leash with a reflective strip is always a great idea. Check out the below safety items that can be purchased through Amazon.
Offer A Shorter Leash
In the winter months, surfaces can freeze and become quite slippery; by keeping your dog on a shorter leash, they have less opportunity to run and slip. Should they slip while walking alongside you, the shorter leash will offer a little extra protection and enable you to better assist them.
Watch Your Dog Walk
People can often be seen on their phone while walking their dog. Not paying attention to what your dog is doing can result in something hazardous happening, especially in the winter. When you walk your dog, you are spending quality time with them, so be present and enjoy their company.
Avoid Icy Surfaces
Dogs lack mobile stability on slick surfaces, so try to avoid lakes and ponds, ice on the sidewalk, or any other slippery surfaces when you are walking. The instability can be rough on their joints.
If you have a small breed dog or are able to carry your dog safely, perhaps do so when going up and down stairs as these surfaces can pose the most harm.
Also, keep in mind that the surface ice on lakes and ponds can crack at any time, so be very cautious if you find yourself upon one.
The best advice we can offer for winter dog walking is to be overly aware and cautious. You know your dog best, so you should be able to assess their needs in every situation and do so safely. You are their human. You've got this.
Bundle up out there. Happy walking!
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