Winter Walks: Protecting Your Dog in Cold Weather

winter walks

winter walks

Your dog will still need their daily walk, even when the weather is poor. However, winter weather can be hazardous for your dog’s safety and health.

Here’s how you can protect your dog in cold weather while still enjoying good exercise.

The dangers of cold weather for your dog

Frostbite is a possibility when the temperature drops, and is characterised by red, white or grey skin that may also begin to peel. The nose, ears and feet are commonly affected. While some dogs are more likely to suffer in cold weather, frostbite is a concern for any dog owner if adequate protection isn’t offered. Hypothermia is another cause for concern. Symptoms can include shivering, anxiety and moving more slowly than normal.

Keeping your dog safe on cold weather walks

Help your dog to retain body heat via clothing that will reduce heat loss. A doggy coat that covers much of his or her body can be invaluable for guarding against chill. This can be particularly important if your dog has a short coat. Older dogs can also feel the cold more, as can dogs that are pregnant or not in the best of health. Puppies can also be susceptible to cold temperatures. As well as protective clothing, booties can also protect your dog’s paws from injury and trauma when snow and/or ice are present.

Restrict the length of your walk so that your dog is not exposed to the cold for too long. It doesn’t take a huge amount of exposure for frostbite to develop, for example. Keep a close eye on your dog and react when he or she gives an indication that they want to go back inside.

Keep your dog on the leash at all times, even if he or she wants to roam around unrestricted. Dogs can easily lose their scent in icy or snowy weather, which increases the possibility that he or she will get lost.

De-icing products are often toxic for dogs so it is essential to avoid walking in areas in which these have been used. If you use them yourself, make sure that you choose dog-friendly options that won’t harm your pet. Antifreeze is particularly toxic and very dangerous so don’t let your dog lick from ground where cars are parked.

Post walk tips 

If there is snow on the ground, make sure that you wipe all remaining snow and ice from your dog’s fur, paws, legs and stomach. This can prevent frostbite, which can occur even after being in cold temperatures for just a short time. Don’t forget to pay particular attention to the space between the paws. Small ice cubes can easily form in these areas.

After returning from a walk, gently wash your dog’s paws with warm water. If he or she came into contact with de-icing products, this will ensure that it cannot be ingested.

If you think that your dog may have developed frostbite, get him or her to a warm room as a matter of urgency. Gently warm up affected areas using a series of warm, moist towels until the skin begins to flush. It’s recommended that you also seek veterinary advice to prevent complications.

How do you protect your dog in cold weather? Share your tips in the comments section below!

[Photo credits: spaceamoeba]