How to keep your dog safe this winter, as temperatures set to drop

With temperatures set to drop this November, according to the latest weather maps and warnings issued across the UK, we’re all layering up for winter walks with our dogs. It’s important to also know how to look after your pooch during the chilly weather.

That’s why holiday letting agents Canine Cottages has teamed up with Clinical Animal Behaviourist Rachel Rodgers MCs to advise the best ways to keep your pooch safe and warm this winter.

According to Rachel: “The vast majority of pets in the UK are not regularly exposed to extreme temperatures and will therefore feel cold in sub-zero temperatures, so it is worth considering getting them a coat.

“Sadly, hypothermia (lower than normal body temperature) is very serious, and dogs can be at risk if they don’t get the right care.”  

For those planning to go on a dog friendly holiday this Christmas with plenty of   walks, here’s what you should consider.

Assess your dogs’ lifestyle

Rachel explains that, ultimately, the impact that the cold weather has depends on the individual dog and their lifestyle: “Consider the temperatures they are used to and the conditions they’re regularly exposed to. Dogs that are used to icey or snowy conditions will probably manage well without a coat as they are acclimatised to these temperatures.

“However, many of our dogs are used to being snuggled up in the house with plenty of blankets, bedding and the heating switched on. This means that going out for normal length walks in sub-zero temperatures will be too cold for many pets.”

Which dogs are most at risk?

There are certain types of dogs that are most at risk of struggling in colder temperatures. Rachel explains: “Puppies in particular are not as good at regulating their body temperature and you need to be extra careful when taking them out in cold weather. You should also take extra care with smaller dogs and dogs with thinner coats or less body fat, such as greyhounds.

“In addition, older dogs or dogs with health conditions are also more at risk of suffering with hypothermia. The cold weather can aggravate conditions such as arthritis and cause flare ups of pain.”

What are the signs to look out for?

Rachel explains: “If your dog slows down on their walk, is cold to the touch, slows their breathing or worse, collapses during or after the walk, you must seek veterinary attention immediately. In these situations, the dog needs to be warmed up gradually, so hot water bottles and heat pads should not be used.

Protect their paws

When you’re out and about during the winter months, it’s likely that the ground will be covered with hidden nasties. Rachel advises: “You really need to clean your dog’s paws thoroughly after a walk when it’s cold outside as they may have walked through grit or de-icer which can be harmful. Be sure to use warm water rather than hot – you could even consider applying some paw balm which helps to heal and protect dry, cracked skin and keep you dog’s paws in good shape.”