Winter Walks: Keeping Your Dog Safe

Brr, it’s chilly! As temperatures have dropped and some of the UK has been met with snow, it’s becoming challenging to get our dogs outside. It’s hard to know how to safely walk our four-legged friends in these freezing conditions. To ensure their safety and well-being during the winter months, here is what to remember to help your dog and yourself during the winter cold snaps:

  1. If it’s snowing, do your best to keep your dog on a lead

Winter landscapes can be deceiving, with hidden dangers like deep patches or holes covered by snow. Keeping your dog on a lead protects them from potential injuries and ensures a safe winter adventure. It’s also a good idea to jazz up your dog’s collar with a reflective strip or light to be easily spotted.

  1. Make sure your dog is properly identified

A collar with an ID tag and a microchip is crucial in case your dog gets lost. Remember to update the microchipping database with your current address and contact details to increase the chances of a swift reunion.

  1. Wipe after walkies

Grit from roads and dampness from rain or snow can irritate your dog's delicate skin. After a winter walk, make it a habit to wipe their legs, feet, and stomach to keep them comfortable and healthy.

  1. Be wary of cars

Regardless of the weather, leaving your dog in a car poses serious risks. Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can be life-threatening for your furry friend. Try to leave them at home in the warmth or take your dog with you wherever you go.

  1. Watch out for frozen water

The thickness of ice on ponds can vary, and it may not be strong enough to support your dog's weight. We strongly advise you to avoid any large bodies of frozen water and definitely please stop your dog going on to these frozen areas at all costs. If your dog falls through the ice, resist the urge to go in after them. Instead, call emergency services for assistance.

  1. Unpredictable weather

We all know that the winter weather is unpredictable so dress for all temperatures. It can change from mild to snow in minutes, so you don't get caught out. Ensure you are as visible as your dog, especially during low-light conditions. And wear plenty of layers!

  1. Regularly check your dog's gear

Winter weather can take a toll on leads, collars, and harnesses. Make sure you regularly check over these items for safety and be cautious when handling metal clips in cold temperatures.

Temperature Guidelines: How Cold is Too Cold?

  • Below 10⁰C: Consider a jumper or coat for small to medium-sized dogs.
  • Below 5⁰C: Larger breeds may benefit from wearing a coat based on fur length, activity levels, and duration of outdoor exposure.
  • Minus 5⁰C or less: Exercise caution in extremely low temperatures to prevent frostbite and paw injuries. It is not advised to take your dog for a walk in below-freezing temperatures.

Are any breeds more at risk than others?

Yes. Small and short-coated breeds are more susceptible to the cold and should be carefully monitored in these conditions.

Vulnerable Small and short-coated breeds include:

  1. Jack Russell
  2. Poodles
  3. Whippets
  4. Dachshunds
  5. Chihuahuas
  6. Basset Hounds
  7. Yorkshire Terriers

Large and short-coated breeds include:

  1. Dalmatians
  2. Staffies
  3. Greyhounds
  4. Doberman Pinschers

All dogs can get cold if left outside in the cold or wet for too long.

Exercising Your Dog Indoors

If your dog is reluctant to brave the cold or it’s below freezing, engage them with indoor enrichment activities. Snuffle mats provide mental stimulation, with 15 minutes of sniffing equivalent to an hour's walk.

Other problem-solving and puzzle activities such as hiding treats around the room for them to find and wrapping treats up in a blanket or towel for them to unravel can keep them occupied for a while.

By following these winter care tips, you can ensure that your canine companion enjoys a safe and cosy winter season. Remember to continue adapting to the changing seasons and keeping you and your furry friend happy, healthy, and warm.

Leave a comment