Weathering Winter Walks: How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Weathering Winter Walks: How to Keep Your Dog Safe

by | Feb 14, 2020 | Shelter News & Developments | 0 comments

You know the routine.

Your dog is scratching at the door, licking your face while you’re still sleeping, or getting overly excited while sitting by the door.

If you didn’t catch on, he’s letting you know that he wants a little outdoor time.

Before you take your dog outdoors for playtime or even a walk, please review these safety tips.

It Feels Frosty

Did you check the weather? Before you take your dog for a walk, make sure you check the temperature and the forecast for the day, especially if you’re planning to go for a walk.

There’s nothing worse than going by how the weather feels now and then end up walking in a snowstorm 10 minutes later.

Know How to Dress Your Dog

Dogs with a lot of fur may not need a coat to stay warm but use your best judgement on this. Even with a lot of fur, you still don’t want to keep your dog outdoors in the winter for too long.

Smaller dogs with less fur may need a sweater or winter friendly coat to stay warm.

Make sure you protect your dog’s paws as well. Consider using wax made specifically for your dog’s paws if they refuse to wear boots. Otherwise, dog boots are a good option to protect your dog’s paws from the cold weather and the snow.

Don’t Eat the Snow

Please make sure your dog does not eat snow.

Have you ever heard of Winter Blap Disease? It’s what happens after your dog eats snow shortly after spending time outdoors in the winter.

Your dog may feel thirsty, eat large amounts of snow, and throw up the snow after going back inside.

Hydrate your dog before and after your walk and whenever your dog is showing signs of thirst. This will help prevent them from alleviating their thirst by eating snow.

You also can’t always tell if snow has chemicals mixed into it. Snow can contain traces of salt used to melt ice, antifreeze from vehicles, and other unpleasant products. That’s why it’s important to prevent your dogs from eating snow.

Make sure you also clean your dog’s paws after you come inside, so they won’t lick any leftover traces of snow, salt, and whatever else is left on their paws.

Snow and salt can irritate your dog’s paws if you don’t clean it off.

Walk While It’s Light

It’s safer to walk your dog during the day instead of the night. This makes it easier for people to see you.

If you do choose to walk at night, make sure you use reflectors and other helpful lights, so that people can see you and your dog.

Love the Leash

The wintertime is not an ideal time to let your dog off the leash during walks.

If there is ice and water outside, your dog can get away from you and end up on an unsafe area such as a frozen pond. If the ice breaks, your dog can fall into the frigid water below.

Keeping them on a leash helps you keep yourself and your dog from potentially dangerous situations such as ending up in freezing water from walking on top of ice.

Listen to Your Dog

Your dog will give you signs that they’re cold. See if your dog is whining often or shivering. If so, they’re ready to go back inside.

Use your best judgement as well when you think it’s time to go inside.

Do not stay outside for too long. You don’t want to increase the risk of your dog getting hypothermia and frostbite.

If your dog is showing signs of hypothermia and frostbite, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Signs of Frostbite:

• White, blue, or gray-colored skin
• Swelling in the affected area
• Blisters or skin ulcers
• The area feels cold and is painful to the touch

Signs of Hypothermia:

• Shivering
• Weakness
• Tiredness or lethargic
• Difficulty breathing
• Dilated pupils

Opt for Indoor Activity if Necessary

If it’s too cold or if we’re in the middle of a snowstorm, opt for an indoor activity for you and your dog.

The indoor activity does not have to be at your home.

You can always sign your dog up for training classes or find your nearest doggy gym and let your dog get their exercise at either of these two places.

We want you and your dog to be safe this winter. These tips will help but you should always do what’s best for your dog.

If your dog is ill or has any existing conditions that will be impacted by the weather, contact your local veterinarian for exercise options that will work best for your dog’s individual needs.