Walking Your Dog in cold weather
This freezing, snowy winter weather we are experiencing just now sometimes makes it more difficult for you to walk your dog. Yet, regardless of the chilly conditions, you should maintain an exercise routine for your pet. If your pet doesn’t exercise regularly, he won’t be able to release his pent-up energy, resulting in bad habits such as chewing and hyperactive behaviour. He is also at risk of increasing weight gain and associated health risks.
Taking a shorter walk may be the answer in more severe weather, especially if there is a dramatic fall in temperature. Older dogs and small puppies should not be walked for long periods in freezing temperatures, whereas younger and livelier dogs will love nothing more than galloping around the field in the deep snow. It may be a winter wonderland, but you must keep safe and consider any potential hazards to your and your dog’s safety and health.
Ice and Snow
Icy footpaths and roads are hazardous for you and your pet, bringing slippery surfaces. If you walk with your dog on a lead, keep the leash short so you’re more in control. If you let your dog off the lead for a run, ensure that you’re confident they will come to your recall, especially near frozen ponds and icy rivers. We hear each year of accidents where dogs have been lost when they fall through frozen lakes and ponds.
When cold and icy, most councils put Rock Salt on the roads and pavements to help melt the ice. As a result, you must wash your dog’s paws after every walk to prevent them from ingesting rock salt.
If the pavements are too slippery, you may want to read our article on exercising your dog in winter.
Check the weather before leaving home.
Before you set off on your walk, check the forecast, and if snow is coming, make your route shorter than usual. Leave the longer walks for dry, cooler days. If it snows heavily, place your dog on the lead as they can soon become disorientated and always ensure that your pet is wearing a collar and a tag with your current ID. Signs that your dog may be cold outside are things such as standing and holding and holding up one leg after another or beginning to shiver. If he’s happily running around in circles in the snow and sniffing around, then he’s a happy dog enjoying his new snowy adventures.
Outdoor wear for walking your dog in cold weather
When humans head outside in chilly weather, we bundle up in many extra layers, yet many dog owners think that as their pet has a thick fur coat, they won’t feel a chill. Of course, different breeds of dogs are more tolerant to the freezing weather, but dogs that generally live inside will benefit from an extra layer of clothing. Many jumpers and coats are available for pets but look for one that’s fairly easy to put on your dog. At Finchley Dog Walker, we would recommend Equifleece coats and jumpers.
Their feet and pads need protection if walking on salted roads and pavements. Dog boots are available to buy, or at least coat their pads in paw wax to offer protection. This goes for you, too, when out walking. Wear suitable waterproof footwear with decent treads to avoid slips and falls and gloves to keep your hands warm when holding the dog lead.
Related article keep warm when dog walking in winter
Returning home after a cold-weather dog walk.
A towel by the door will wipe off some excess snow when your dog enters the house, so try to wipe off as much snow from his fur and skin as possible. They need to be properly dry to prevent them from catching a chill. Many motorists use antifreeze and de-icer at this time of the year, and your dog’s paws may become contaminated. It’s best to wash and rinse their paws when you return home before they can lick them to be safe, as these chemicals are poisonous to dogs.
As a professional Dog Walker, the ice and snow are something I have to contend with during the winter months. I will do my best to get all of my customers to walk their dogs, but if it’s hazardous, especially walking in the snow and on black ice, for both mine and your dog’s safety, walks may be cut short. In this eventuality, I will introduce more garden playtime into their routine to ensure that they still get their daily exercise.
Please let me know if you are home due to snow days, and don’t wish me to exercise your pet.