We all know walking is the best exercise for our dogs. But what can you do when the temperatures drop, and the wind howls?
Winter hazards can make walking dangerous for both you and your pet.
So, can you continue safely taking your daily walk during winter?
Consider using these seven winter dog-walking safety tips to protect yourself and your dog.
Trim toe hair
Clip the hair between your dog’s toes to keep your dog comfortable during walks.
Ice can pile up on that hair and cause discomfort or even lameness.
Use boots on your dog’s paws to shield them from winter dangers such as rock salt or chemical ice melt.
Winter dog-walking safety tips: Take shorter walks
Although regular walks are crucial, you must stay safe in cold temperatures. You might want to cut the time you both spend in the frigid air to do both.
If you cut your walks, supplement them with other indoor exercises to keep your dog happy and healthy.
Use a leash
During winter, visibility is reduced, especially if you brave a walk during a winter storm.
If you don’t walk your dog on a leash and there is a heavy snowfall, your dog can lose your scent and get lost.
The leash also provides protection around dangerous spots, including heavily traveled intersections or frozen lakes or ponds.
Every year, dog owners put themselves and their pets at risk when dogs run out on ice that isn’t stable.
If this happens, don’t go into the frigid water. Call for help and try to keep your dog calm.
Winter dog-walking safety tips: Watch for chemicals
Cleared sidewalks and driveways might seem like good places to walk when there is ice and snow, but beware of potential chemical dangers.
Antifreeze and ice-melting chemicals are dangerous. Both can be fatal if ingested, and ice-melting chemicals can burn your dog’s paws.
If your dog won’t wear booties, use a warm cloth to wipe their paws when you return home.
Another option, coat your dog’s paws with a balm like Musher’s Secret before you leave the house to protect his paws.
Or you can brave walks in areas before snow removal.
Be aware of frostbite
Frostbite is a severe threat to pets. Pay attention to the footpads, ears, tail, and nose because those are the sections where frostbite can occur.
Frostbitten skin becomes pale, hard, and cold; it can even become red and puffy as it warms. If you notice that your puppy refuses to walk, then it could be because of frostbite.
If you think your dog is cold, put a warm cloth on the affected area and then cover it with a blanket.
Do not allow your dog to scratch or lick the affected area because that might cause infection. If you think your dog has experienced frostbite, consult with your veterinarian.
Winter dog-walking safety tips: Put on a sweater or coat
Monitor weather conditions and check the temperature before heading out.
You may need to consider putting your dog in a sweater or coat to help her stay warm. Small dogs, senior dogs, or dogs without a double coat are more susceptible to cold and may struggle to maintain a safe body temperature.
Clothes might look awkward on pets, but they are helpful, especially in extremely cold conditions.
Some pets have fur that helps to withstand the cold weather, and others don’t.
Coats or sweaters protect your dog from the cold air and also can keep your dog from getting wet in snow or rain.
The clothes keep your dog warm in freezing temperatures and protect against frostbite and hypothermia.
During winter, the daylight hours are shorter, with little sunlight. To ensure passing vehicles see you and your dog, wear reflective clothing.
You can even use a reflective collar or leash to make you more visible. You also can clip a lighted beacon to your dog’s leash or collar to make him more visible.
Snow and ice make it difficult for drivers to stop, so be aware of nearby vehicles.
Winter walks pose severe threats to pets.
To keep your dog safe and comfortable, follow these winter dog-walking tips.
Rachel Hudson owns two dogs and enjoys reading and writing about dogs.