How to walk your dog in the snow
Safely walk your dog in the snow
There’s always something magical about the first snowfall, but its beauty belies potential dangers, especially for dogs that aren’t acclimated to such weather.
Unfortunately, your dog can’t explain just how they feel and what’s bothering them. When it comes to the snow, however excited or curious they are, it’s important to take proper precautions during walks. Here, we’ve compiled a rundown of everything you need to know and watch for in order to make winter walks safe and fun for your furry pal.
Before the walk
Small dogs, those that sit low to the ground, short-haired breeds, and seniors, especially those prone to any ailments, need a proper winter coat for cold, snowy walks. Look for options that are waterproof and cover the neck and belly. Some may feature a collar or hood, and others will cover a portion of the legs. Scarves may be purchased separately, too. Belly protection is particularly important for dogs that are short and stout.
Booties are equally important. A dog’s paw pads provide cushioning, traction, insulation, and protection. Salt can dry out and irritate pads, potentially causing bleeding. Wet snow and ice balls can also lead to discomfort.
During the walk
A snowy walk can be a tricky proposition. If you don’t have booties, you’ll want to do your best to avoid salted sidewalks and driveways. However, dogs that aren’t built for winter living shouldn’t walk through the snow the entire time, especially if it’s heavy snow, as dog bellies are most vulnerable.
As such, some winter walks will have to be short. Avoid staying outside longer than 10 or 15 minutes when it drops below zero or if conditions are wet, windy, or icy. Wear reflective material if walking a night; an LED dog collar is a useful investment.
Watch for any distress or drop in energy. Lifting of the paws is a telltale sign they’re uncomfortable walking. Also, limit scavenging and licking during snowy excursions. It’s not uncommon for harsh chemicals and melting solutions to be found on busy sidewalks and streets during the winter.
After the walk
Thoroughly wipe off any snow when you return inside, paying particular attention to the paws and stomach. You’ll want to remove any salt they may have carried in and potentially rinse areas if they’re dirty. Most importantly, dry your dog. If they stay wet, they may still stay cold.
Be sure they have a warm, cozy bed and invest in a humidifier to keep the air moist. Just like humans, dogs can flake and itch when the air is too dry.
Reward dressing up. Create a calm environment and reward your pup every step of the way when putting on attire. This process may require a lot of patience as some dogs will be adverse, but dog treats definitely help.Moisturize pads. Petroleum jelly, coconut oil, or dog-specific balm can be applied before or after walks to hydrate and soothe dog pads, helping battle against the dry, irritating environment outside.Invest in dog-friendly ice melt. There are safer alternative solutions to traditional salt. These will be less meddlesome on your dog’s pads, and neighborhood pups will appreciate it, too.Trim, but don’t shave. For long-haired dogs, especially those prone to tangles, keep paws, legs, and belly trimmed so as to avoid clingy snowballs or icicles. However, do not shave your dog as they need their fur coat to stay warm.Keep fresh water available. Cold, snowy weather requires more hydration. Maintain fresh, cold water at all times. You may also want to add some extra food to their meal occasionally as they burn more energy in the winter.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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