5 tips for walking your dog during the winter
Posted on 26 February, 2018
Kirsty McGovern is a Buyer at the pet supply specialist Millbry Hill. Here, she shares her advice on how to keep your dog happy and healthy while walking them in the winter time.
In the winter, shorter days, heavy rain, and freezing temperatures are likely to disturb your usual dog walking routine. Plus, when you do take your pooch outside, you'll have to deal with frozen trails, muddy fields, and snow that's settled on the ground.
To help you ensure your dog still gets all the exercise they need during the winter and that they're happy and safe outside, Kirsty McGovern is going to share her top winter walking tips. Read on to find out more.
Plan your dog walks for when it's still light
The days are shorter during winter, but walking your dog in the dark during the winter is particularly hazardous, as there are likely to be puddles, patches of ice, and deep snow drifts that you mightn't immediately see when there isn't much light. Plus, motorists, cyclists, and other pedestrians may find you more difficult to spot at night, which can also be dangerous. So, wherever possible, you should try to take your pooch out in the day time.
If your lifestyle or work schedule means that you can't always be around to walk your pet when it's light, make sure you're easy to spot by wearing hi-vis clothing, and kit your dog out with reflective accessories such as a collar or jacket. You should also take a torch to light the way whenever street lighting is sparse.
Consider altering your route according to the weather
While a remote and scenic trail might make the perfect location for a dog walk in spring and summer, cold and harsh conditions could make it especially hazardous during the winter months. Plus, as it gets much darker, taking a route that isn't frequented by other people could put you and your dog at risk.
At night and when weather conditions are bad, it's best to stick to well-lit public paths that you're familiar with. And, always let someone know that you're taking your dog out and where you're going to be, as it will give you peace of mind and ensure someone knows where you are if you do get into trouble.
Make sure you're both wrapped up
You can still enjoy the time that you and your pooch spend outdoors in the winter — you just need to ensure that you're both protected from the worst of the cold. When it comes to what you should wear, layers will do the best job of keeping you warm, and it's a good idea to also invest in a high-quality weatherproof coat.
Kirsty would recommend buying a coat for your dog, too. If your pet has a thick coat, a lightweight dog rug will help to keep them clean and dry without causing them to overheat. If they are finer coated, elderly or less mobile, a heavier coat is likely to be more suitable.
Even when they're wearing a coat, your dog could still get too cold during the winter, so keep an eye out for any signs that they need to be taken indoors. If they're visibly shivering, you should take them somewhere warm as soon as possible.
Dry your dog before and after a walk
We all know that we shouldn't go out in the cold when our hair's wet because we might catch a chill, but did you know that your dog can be affected in the same way? If your pet's coat is wet — maybe they've been splashing around in puddles or rolling around in your garden's grass — you should dry them off before taking them on a winter walk.
Similarly, if you've been out in the rain or snow and are drenched when you get home, you should dry them off as soon as you can. A big towel will usually do the trick!
Avoid substances that aren't dog-friendly
The weather isn't the only thing that poses a risk to your dog during the winter: de-icer and anti-freeze are both highly toxic but have a sweet taste that might attract your pooch. So, whenever you're out and about, it's vital that you're vigilant and don't give your dog access to the products you might use to keep your windscreen frost-free.
You need to be aware that other people might use de-icing products, too. As a result, you shouldn't allow your furry friend off their lead around parked cars, and should keep an eye out for any signs that your dog has ingested these dangerous chemicals. PetMD has a guide to antifreeze poisoning in dogs, which outlines all of the symptoms you should look out for.
To ensure that your dog remains happy and healthy throughout the colder months, it's important that you alter your walking routine for autumn and winter. Take the above tips onboard and you'll ensure you and your pooch can have plenty of fun outdoors, whatever the season!