It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas lights are starting to go up, gifts are beginning to be bought, the days are getting shorter and it’s the last stretch before the holidays. Winter can also be a wonderful time of year for your dog too. Though this season does have some unique dangers and considerations for your four-legged friend. So follow these top tips to ensure a happy and healthy pooch throughout the long nights of Winter!
One of the defining features of Winter is that, in general, it is cold.
Sensitivity to these lower temperatures can vary between dogs. Puppies and seniors will tend to feel the cold more along with short haired breeds. While adults and long haired breeds may be perfectly comfortable in cooler weather. Although beware of long haired breeds getting their hair wet as this will make them feel cold.
Exposure to cold weather for too long may lead to hypothermia. This is a very dangerous, potentially life-threatening condition.
So as the temperature starts to drop keep a close eye on your dog.
Signs that they are cold include:
* Hunching over
* Tucking their tails beneath them
* A reluctance to move or slow movements
* Very cold ears
* Whining or whimpering
If your dog is showing signs of being too cold then you may want to consider investing in a coat. There is a huge range of coats available for dogs. They come in all sorts of materials and designs. The coat you pick will depend on a variety of factors. For example, if you live in an area with a lot of rain then a waterproof coat is advisable whereas those in dry extremely cold areas may opt for something more insulating.
In our Summer safety post we talked about pavements being too hot for dogs to walk on comfortably. There is a similar danger in the Winter.
Dogs do tend to have tough paws but walking on snow and ice every day can really take its toll. Chilly paws can be protected by keeping them moisturized (to prevent splitting). Booties can also be worn by the dog – not always the easiest things to use but in extreme temperatures they are ideal. There is also the option of protective wax such as Musher’s Secret. This wax creates a barrier between the paw and the cold floor for protection.
If you ask your dog to “sit” while out on a walk – for a treat or before crossing a road for example – remember that the floor is probably very cold for them! So some dogs might be reluctant to do as they are told. They are not being naughty, they just don’t really want to get their butt cold!
As previously mentioned, the amount of protection from the cold each dog needs varies between individuals. While some dogs definitely need full coats and paw protection, there are other dogs which would overheat. Make sure to keep a close eye on your dog and be reactive as well as proactive!
With days growing shorter and nights growing longer, many owners will find themselves walking their dog in the dark.
Winter weather generally may also lead to poor visibility with snow, fog and rain. There is therefore not only the risk of you not being able to see your dog on a walk but also the danger of cars not seeing your dog. It’s also possible for your dog to lose you in the dark as well. This could lead to a panic and the dog running off in the wrong direction! Now, I don’t want to sound like your Nan or anything but it’s really important for dog walkers in the Winter to make sure that both them and their dog can be seen in poor visibility. There are a variety of collars and harnesses that have reflective material or even lights on them. You may also want to keep dogs on leads more than you would in the summer.
Other Outdoor Dangers in Winter
Roads and pavements are often covered with rock salt and/or chemicals such as antifreeze to melt the ice and keep them safe for cars and people. This can be irritating for dog paws and may also end up being ingested by the dog licking their paws clean after a walk. This substances can be highly poisonous. Keep your dog safe from this by wiping their paws clean after ever walk. These substances can also be in puddles in the street which a thirsty dog will drink from. Keep a close eye on your dog and bring water along with you for them to drink.
Frozen ponds and lakes can be extremely dangerous to dogs if they go onto the ice and it breaks. Even if the ice seems quite thick, it is generally always better to be safe than sorry. Keep dogs close by your side when walking by frozen bodies of water. Drinking ice cold water will also lower your dog’s body temperature so you may want to encourage them to drink from their own bottle of water to stop them from becoming too cold.
So follow these top tips to keep your dog safe, happy and warm throughout the winter months.
Make sure you check out my post from last year for my top safety tips for dogs at Christmas!