How to Protect Your Dog During Winter Walks
It’s wintertime and it’s cold outside, so before you head out the door to take Fido on his daily walk, you prepare yourself with coat, hat, gloves and possibly boots…and for your dog, you grab his leash! Is that really all he needs to be safe, warm and comfortable?
He’s a dog, they’re intended to be outside, what else could he need?
Well, depending on your dog’s breed and the weather conditions, your dog just might need more to keep him safe and warm. Another thing to keep in mind…if your dog is one who spends most of his time inside, he won’t be conditioned to be outside during cold weather any better than you are.
If you prepare your dog properly for his winter walks, you can both come back home refreshed and invigorated. But whatever you do don’t forgo his exercise because it’s cold outside – just prepare accordingly.
Tips for Happy Winter Dog Walking
Here in the Seattle, WA area, we don’t have a lot of snowy days, but we do have some, and we also have freezing temperatures, and rainy weather. These are conditions we want to prepare our dogs for.
- Tips for snow, rain and ice:
- If there is a possibility that you will encounter some ice along the way, one thing that will help your pup navigate the slickness easier, is if you have kept his nails well trimmed, which will decrease his chances of slipping, sliding and even falling.
- You can protect “paw pads” from freezing ice, snow, concrete, rock salt or other de-icing chemicals by applying a good coat of petroleum jelly on them. Just remember to clean your dog’s feet before coming inside. Another thing you can do is purchase little booties for their feet to protect them.
- Don’t eat the snow! It’s pretty tempting for a lot of dogs to lick, bite or taste the snow, but the snow can contain chemicals in it or even sharp objects that could harm your dog.
- Whether your walk has been in the rain or the snow, keep a towel by the door to wipe down not only the dog’s feet, but the belly and any other areas that could be wet, you’ll not only protect your home and its furnishings, but you’ll be protecting your dog’s health as well.
- Tips for cold weather: More and more we’re seeing dogs coming out in very fancy coats or sweaters, sometimes it’s a fashion statement and sometimes it’s intended for function.
- Small dogs, especially those with short hair need help (even indoors) to keep their body heat up, so it is especially important for them to have that extra layer. Make sure the coat doesn’t restrict movement.
- Dogs with heavy coats of their own may not need an extra layer, unless they have been recently groomed and their own coat is shorter than normal.
- Be aware of you dog’s behavior when you’re out in the cold…body language can speak volumes:
- Obviously shivering is a sign that your dog is ready to go in and get warm.
- Some dogs may indicate they are too cold by holding up one of their front legs, or they may alternate lifting each of their front legs.
- If your dog is acting full of energy, and acting excited, he is probably still happy to be outside, and on the flip side, if he’s acting less than excited and seems unhappy, it’s time to go in.
- Dogs can get frostbite if their body temperature drops to far and doesn’t return to a safe level, which can lead to loss of a limb or damage to internal organs. Frostbite may not show up immediately, the effects could manifest in a day or two. Some of the signs of frostbite to watch for are:
- It will probably begin with shivering
- There may be ice on some of the body
- Painful areas
- Blisters or other tissue damage
You and your dog can continue to enjoy your daily walks, even during the winter, just prepare him as well as you prepare yourself for the weather. A good rule of thumb is: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your best friend.
One of the best things you can do for your dog, especially a puppy, is to enroll them into training classes.
We believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are under given circumstances and situations.
Check out our Family Friendly Training Classes.