Baby, it’s cold out there! While the days are shorter and the temperatures are lower, you may be tempted to skip winter walks until the weather warms up. However, walks are a vital way to keep your dog healthy and their energy levels stable. To make sure your furry friend is warm and safe this time of year, we’ve put together 8 winter safety tips to follow. Keep in mind that every breed is different – depending on their age and fur, some dogs may be able to spend more time outside than others. You know your dog best, so make sure to tweak these tips to find what works best for yours.
Limit Time Outdoors
Even the dogs with the thickest of coats will get cold if they spend too much time outside. Unlike humans, dogs can’t protect their ears and paws from blustery winds and cold cement. When the temperature drops, never leave your dog outside unattended, and on extra cold days, only take them outside if they’re going to be active. Set a brisk walking pace to keep both of you warm, and consider shortening your walk depending on the temperature.
Sweater weather applies to dogs, too! Puppies, older canines, smaller dogs, and short hair dogs may need another layer to keep them warm. Make sure the sweater fits well and won’t get in the way during potty breaks. Try on a few different styles and fabrics to see what your pet is most comfortable in.
Care For Their Paws
Ice, snow, salt, and chemicals like antifreeze and deicers can build up on your dog’s feet after a wintery walk and can be deadly if he licks his paws. To avoid any harm, wipe your pup’s paws with a towel every time he comes in. While you’re at it, check his pads for injuries or cracks from stepping on ice and snow. To prevent ice and snow from building up between the footpads, keep the hair around your dog’s paws well-trimmed.
Give Them A Cozy Spot
Give your pup a comfy place to warm up after walks by giving them a dog bed or blanket. Stick for traditional blankets here – heated mats can burn your pet’s skin, and your dog can easily burn themselves on space heaters. They may even be able to tip them over and start a fire!
Groom Them Properly
Give your dog a bath indoors and make sure they’re completely dry before going outside again. Use warm water and dry them as quickly as possible. When temperatures are coldest, consider giving fewer baths or skipping them for a period.
Between baths, make sure you brush your dog’s coat thoroughly, and avoid shaving, trimming, or cutting their hair since they rely on their coat for warmth. Comb out knots thoroughly and pay special attention to matted areas – matted fur won’t keep out the snow and cold rain or provide as much insulation as well-groomed hair.
Make Them Shine
As the days get shorter, it can be difficult to get walks in during the daylight hours. To help you, motorists, and other walkers better see your dog, try out a reflective harness. Not only will this harness increase your dog’s visibility at night, but it’s patented no-pull system will help you stay upright if your dog pulls you along an icy sidewalk. If your dog is outside without a leash, try a reflective collar instead – it will still reflect up to 300 feet to help your dog be more visible.
Know The Signs
After your dog has been outside, be on the lookout for symptoms of hypothermia. Bring your dog inside immediately if he:
- Whines or acts anxious
- Has ice on his body
- Can’t stop shivering or seems weak
- Looks for a place to burrow
- Stops moving or slows down
Once your dog is out of the cold, wrap him in blankets and call your vet. You should also regularly check your dog for painful or pale areas, blisters, skin ulcers, or discoloration – these can be a sign of frostbite.