It is important to protect your pooch on walks during winter months as the temperature drops. You may be tempted to stay indoors where it’s nice and cosy but it’s vital to keep up with your dog’s exercise to prevent any unwanted weight gain and provide mental stimulation for them.
Emma Purnell, at Registered Veterinary Nurse at Nutravet comments: “winter walks are a great way for them to experience the smells and sights of the season, as well as keeping their joints mobile. Some dogs, such as smaller breeds and senior pets, are more vulnerable to cold weather and it is important to keep an extra eye on them.
“During wintertime it’s important to consider the temperatures. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. If it’s too cold to venture outside, you could exercise your pooch in the home with some fun games.”
How cold is too cold for a dog walk?
Generally, it is recommended for dog owners to take extra care when temperatures drop to 7’C or below. When deciding if it is too cold, it’s important to factor in your dog’s age, breed, size and acclimatisation to the climate you live in.
Wrap up warm
Despite your dog having a fur coat, adding an extra layer during winter months can be beneficial. This will not only keep them warm on walks but also dry. Make sure the coat is comfortable and fits properly to prevent overheating or sores. Don’t force your dog to wear a coat if they really don’t like it.
Consider shorter walks
In colder weather you could reduce the amount of time you walk your dog. The longer your dog spends outside, the lower their body temperature will drop. If they still need some exercise, consider playing indoor games once you return from your short walk.
Time of day
It’s usually colder early in the morning and late at night. Plan your dog walks around this by going out at warmer times of the day – mid morning or early afternoon, if possible.
Keep them on the lead
When the weather is particularly icy or snowy keep your dog on the lead during walks. Roads and pavements can become more slippery and keeping them on the lead, close to you, will keep them safe and prevent falls or injury. By walking your dog on the lead you can also keep closer control of where your dog walks. If your dog is off the lead they may venture onto dangerous ground, such as deep holes or frozen ponds or lakes.
Don’t let them eat snow
Some dogs enjoy catching falling snow in their mouth. However, don’t let your dog eat snow that is frozen on the ground. Toxic substances may have contaminated the snow such as de-icer or antifreeze and your dog is at risk of ingesting potentially harmful bacteria from other animal’s faeces. Eating snow in large quantities could also dangerously lower your dog’s body temperature.
Walking on ice and cold surfaces could make your dog’s paws sore. If your dog seems uncomfortable or starts to limp, check their paws for ice balls and remove them while out walking. You could buy your dog some boots to wear during winter walks.
When you get home from your walk, remember to dry your dog’s paws with a towel and clean them if they are muddy. You can also give them a warm (not hot) water bath when you get home. This will help remove any salt they may have walked in, which can be toxic if ingested.
Support their joints
Cold winter conditions can exasperate stiff joints. If your dog has joint stiffness or reduced mobility keep walks shorter and avoid slippery or rugged terrains. Consider using Nutraquin+ to support your dog’s joints. Nutraquin+ contains the necessary high strength ingredients that help maintain healthy joint function, whilst supporting the natural systems that control inflammation.