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Tips for Walking Your Dog This Winter

Walking your dog outside in the wintertime can certainly be a challenge for both dogs and humans. It my be cold and snowy, however there’s no avoiding it you have to take your dog for a walk. Your dog’s daily walks are beneficial for many reasons; for doing their business, for physical exercise and also for some fresh air. In fact, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 55% of adult dogs in the US are overweight or obese. So, skipping the daily walk is certainly something that is not recommended. Here’s are a few easy ways to counter the winter challenges such as snow, cold temperatures and shorter days.

1. Dog Treadmills

Indoor dog treadmills are among the latest trends in canine technology and can really help you and your dog to stay active regardless of the weather. They are fairly affordable and convenient for both dogs and owners. Additionally, most treadmills are very easy to use and need no time to set up. They can also be easily stored and neatly tucked away into the corner of any room of the house. Another benefit with dog treadmills is that you will be able to track the progress of your dog’s fitness. So, if you have a dog that needs to lose weight and get fit, a dog treadmill is the way to go.

2. Wear Boots

Boots are a very practical and simple solution to your winter problems. They will protect your dog from harsh weather elements such as ice, snow and freezing temperatures. These things can really dry out paws and also make your dog chill faster.

Also, winter roads and sidewalks are treated with salt and other chemicals to remove ice. Many of these chemicals are not pet friendly, and can damage your dog’s paws or sicken them if ingested! Your dog’s feet are sensitive and need to be protected and boots can add that extra level of protection. Plus, they look absolutely adorable!

Tip: Boots are vital for paralyzed dogs in winter. Extreme temperatures are dangerous, a dog that can’t feel it’s feet is also unable to tell when their paws are too cold!

3. Don’t Push It

While some dogs will give fairly obvious signs for when they’re not interested in going out in the cold or snow, others might not. Some signs to look out for – your dog is shivering, gives any indication of being afraid or hesitant, or pulls you back towards home. In these situations, don’t force her for the walk. Instead, you should take her back home to warm up and maybe try again another day. Also, there are some breeds that do not feel comfortable with the cold at all. In that case, you should be aware of your dog’s breed the cold-threshold. While it’s fine to let your dog play outside in the cold, never leave her unattended for long periods of time.  

4. Keep Them Warm

Paralyzed dog in wheelchair bundles up on a winter walk

Jackets and sweaters look really cute on dogs and are very useful as well. Of course, some dogs (such as Alaskan Malamutes, Saint Bernard and Huskies) have fur that can withstand cold temperatures and also keep away moisture, many dogs do not. 

If your dog needs clothing to stay warm, look for one specifically designed to protect your dog from wind-chill. Small dogs aren’t the only ones who need help staying warm, jackets are effective for older dogs as well, or for those with any physical disability or illness.  These challenges limit their ability to keep themselves warm and need additional support.

5. Don’t Eat the Snow!

Though it may seem harmless, snow is not healthy for your dog to consume. This includes both white and yellow of course. The chances that a little snow will do any damage are low, but eating snow does propose a lot of challenges. Firstly, you can never know what may be in the snow – chemicals, antifreeze, or some other dangerous contaminants. If consumed in excessive amounts, snow can cause several challenges such as diarrhea and vomiting. One way to avoid this is by hydrating your dog before leaving for your walk and also carrying along some fresh water.

6. Diapers

If dogs are planning to do their business outside, it may be a challenge due to the cold. This is primarily because they are cold and uncomfortable. However, sometimes the snow can make it hard for your dog to find a good spot. For pet’s who need protection against accidents, diapers can certainly be the solution. There are a lot of different kinds of diapers available in the market today including reusable ones that are washable and disposable ones. Choose the one that works best for your pet!

7. Always Use a Leash

Even if your dog is trustworthy and has never run off, you should always keep your dog on a leash in the winter, especially during storms! Ice and snow can affect visibility and make it very difficult for a lost dog to find his way back home and for you to find them! There are specific leashes that you can use for the winter with extra grip. This will ensure that your buddy doesn’t go anywhere even if you end up slipping or falling.

8. Snow & Wheelchair Dogs

Wheelchair dog skis through snow on winter walk

Trying to walk your handicapped dog through snow, ice and slush presents an even greater challenge! However, just because it snows doesn’t mean your dog can’t still enjoy getting outside. Switch your dog’s wheels for skis and they can continue to run, play and go on their daily walks regardless of the weather!

Do you have any useful tips to share for walking your dog in the cold? Let us know and share in the comments below!

Guest Author:
Anoop Nain

Anoop is the proud father of four rescue dogs two Flemish giant rabbits. Even though his puppies are all grown up, each day with them is a new learning experience. With a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare, Anoop loves to share suggestions and tips about pets with animal lovers.

Did we answer all your questions on "winter challenges"?


    • Hi Nic, paralyzed dogs have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so in extreme cold temps they may need to wear an extra layer to stay warm.

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