Top tips for winter dog walks

With the temperature dropping and a white Christmas looking more likely, it is important to know how to protect your pets during the colder winter months. Our team at Clent Hills Vets in Bromsgrove are sharing their advice and top tips below.

It’s not always a 'Winter Wonderland’ for your dog!

It might be tempting to stay snuggled up inside when it's cold outside but walking in the winter can be good for your health as well as for your dog. Everyone benefits from daily exercise and fresh air and for your dog, it is an excellent way for them to experience the smells and sights of the outside world. They get to socialise with other dogs, have some bonding time with you, and wear themselves out ready for a cosy night at home with you.

However, be aware that small dogs are more vulnerable in the cold, whereas bigger dogs can usually withstand lower temperatures - especially if they have a decent amount of fur! Puppies and older dogs could be more vulnerable to the cold too. Keep this in mind when taking your pet for a walk and follow these guidelines to help ensure they have an enjoyable and safe time outdoors.

7 Top Tips for Winter Walks:

1. Wrap up warm

Your dog has a fur coat but just like humans, an extra layer is sensible when going out for a winter walk. Treat your dog to some outdoor clothing but make sure it fits correctly to avoid rubbing or irritation. Buying from a reputable retailer helps ensure a coat is comfortable, and made from the right material to keep your pet dry as well as prevent overheating. Some dogs, however, are just not fans of wearing clothing and should never be forced to do so.

2. Shorter walks

Consider reducing the amount of time you walk your dog. If they're still energetic after a short walk, spend some time playing indoor games to wear them out and give them the exercise they need.

3. Change the time you take walks

It is usually colder early in the morning and once darkness comes, so ideally plan your walks for mid-morning or early afternoon.

4. Don’t let your dog eat snow

Some dogs love the game of catching falling snowflakes but when the snow is on the ground it is important to prevent your pet from eating it. Toxic substances may have contaminated the snow, such as de-icer or antifreeze, and your dog is at risk of ingesting potentially harmful bacteria from another animal’s poop. Eating snow in large quantities could also dangerously lower your dog's body temperature.

5. Take a bottle of water for your dog

Some dogs eat snow because they are thirsty. Take a bottle of water with you to help them stay hydrated.

6. Avoid frostbite

The icy, cold ground could make your dog’s paws sore and place them at risk of accidents. If your dog seems uncomfortable or starts to limp, check their paws for ice balls and remove them while out walking. When you get home, dry your dog’s paws with a towel and clean them if they are muddy. You could also consider buying your dog some boots for winter walks, which will also help prevent injury from slips and falls - although it may be harder to convince your dog to wear these than it would a winter coat!

7. Plan where you walk to avoid rock salt

Try to walk your pet away from areas that are likely to contain a lot of salt, such as the sludge on the side of the road. Salt can irritate and burn your dog’s paws and can be toxic if ingested.

We hope you found our tips useful and we wish you all a wonderful and safe winter season!

If you need veterinary care for your dog, you can contact us here