Do you keep your dog indoors on cold winter days? Do you worry that he may not be getting enough exercise during the winter because you can’t take him out on walks? It is true that taking your dog for a walk in the winter rain or snow poses some challenges that you do not have to deal with during warmer weather. Not to worry! With a little preparation and If you follow some simple winter safety tips, you can take your dog for an enjoyable walk even in cold weather.
What are the Challenges of Walking Your Dog During the Winter?
Cold temperatures and winter weather like snow, sleet, and rain can make it hard to walk your dog. Some dogs have more trouble during the winter than others. For instance, young puppies and senior dogs are more likely to get sick if they spend too much time outside in the cold. Dogs that already have health issues including chronic lung or thyroid problems are at a higher risk for illness as well.
Keep Your Dog Safe During Winter Walks
In addition to cold temperatures and slick weather, you may run into some harsh chemicals on the ground during the wintertime. Chemicals such as antifreeze and other chemicals people use to melt ice could be in your dog’s path. Make sure your dog does not walk through any harsh chemicals. If he gets them on his feet it will not only irritate his skin, but will also be harmful if he licks his paws. In addition to harsh chemicals, the salt used to melt ice will irritate your dog’s sensitive paws too.
Safety Tips for Your Dog’s Feet
You can keep your dog’s paws clean and protected with booties. If your pup does not like to wear booties, you can put a protective wax cream on his paws instead. Make sure to wipe your dog’s paws clean before coming back inside. Wiping your pup’s paws will not only get rid of the cream so it does not leave residue all over your floors, it will also get rid of anything your pup may have stepped in.
Keep Your Dog Warm
Some dogs do better in cold temperatures than others. If you have a small, lean dog, or a dog with short or thin fur you may want to put him in a warm sweater before you go outside. If you have a large dog, or one with a thick coat, you will probably be the only one that will need a sweater. Dogs like Siberian huskies for instance are built for cold temperatures and come equipped with a natural winter coat. Chihuahuas, on the opposite end of the spectrum, will need a warm winter coat to protect them from the cold.
Walking Your Dog in the Dark
If you walk your dog in the snow, make sure to stick to plowed sidewalks as much as possible. Depending on where you live, wintertime may mean short daylight hours. Less daylight means you may be walking your dog in the dark more often. For this reason, it is a smart idea to bring a flashlight with you on your walks. Flashlights are not only useful tools in the dark, but may be helpful even during daylight hours when there is low visibility due to fog, rain, or snow.
More Safety Tips for Cold, Snowy Weather
Always keep your pup on a leash when you go for a walk. Using a leash is a good rule to follow anytime of year, but is especially important during snowy winter days. You never know what kind of hazards there may be in a snow drift. Your dog may also find himself getting stuck in a frozen puddle or icy embankment. Make sure your dog does not eat any snow. You never know what might be mixed up in the snow that could make your pup sick. Eating snow will also make it more difficult for your dog to stay warm.
Although going for walks outside during the winter is a good idea, it is also a good idea to keep the amount of time spent outdoors lower than in other seasons. Keep your walks short to make sure your pup does not develop frostbite or hypothermia. Make sure to watch your dog’s behavior for signs that he is getting too cold. If you see your pup shivering, whining, or slowing way down, it may be time to bring him back inside.
Indoor Exercises You Can Do With Your Dog
Even though you can walk your dog during the winter most of the time, there will be some days that are just too dismal to go out. When you can’t get outdoors because of a storm or freezing cold temperatures, there are some great alternative activities you can do to help him get his much needed exercise while staying nice and warm indoors.
Easy Indoor Activities to Get Your Dog Moving
Play fetch indoors to get your pup moving. Another option is to run up and down the stairs. If your pup is healthy enough to navigate a staircase, running up and down the stairs a few times is a great way to get his exercise in. Run from one room to another and have your dog chase you through the house. If your dog needs some motivation to get moving, use treats as a way to entice him to play.
Classes and Training for Socialization
If exercising your dog at home gets boring, you can sign him up for an obedience training class.These classes will give your pup a chance to get some exercise and socialize with other dogs. If you are not in the market for obedience training, or want to try a class you can do with your dog, you might want to try a doggy yoga class. You may want to try a doggy gym or an indoor dog park to change up the pace a bit.
What Gear Do You Need for Walking Your Dog in Winter?
Taking your dog for walks during the wintertime is a great way for you both to get some exercise while enjoying getting out of the house. Don’t let the cold weather discourage you from taking your pup out. With a little preparation and some great winter gear, you will be all set to enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend. Try some of the following products designed to keep your dog warm, dry, and entertained this winter.
Weather Resistant Jacket
Keep your dog warm and dry this winter with a weather resistant coat. The Hurtta Ultimate Warmer is equipped with thermal insulation designed for long-term exposure to cold temperatures. This jacket is made with a waterproof lining to keep your pup dry. A bonus to this jacket is that has 3M reflectors to keep your dog visible when you go for walks at night.
The Soggy Doggy Super Shammy is great for drying off your dog before coming back inside after a walk out in the rain or snow. The shammy towel is made from absorbent microfiber chenille and is designed to hold as much as 7 times its weight in water.
The QUMY Dog Boots are waterproof shoes designed to keep your pup’s feet nice and toasty on cold winter walks. These booties are equipped with anti-slip soles so your dog can wear them on slippery, icy sidewalks. You can take your dog out for a brisk walk during the night and stay safe with these booties because they have reflective Velcro that will make your dog more visible in the dark.
Collapsible Water Bowl
It is important to keep your dog hydrated during walks. The COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl is conveniently collapsible for easy portability during walks. These bowls are made with pet-safe silicone so your dog can enjoy a snack or a drink of water safely. The silicone material is made to be used again and again. It is easy to wipe clean after each use. Each collapsible bowl holds 1.5 cups of food or 12 fluid ounces of water. When you are not using the bowl, you can clip it to your backpack, dog’s leash, or crate.
LED Safety Collar
In addition to your dog’s reflective booties, you may want to try an LED safety collar like the Illumiseen LED Dog Collar. This collar has bright LED lights with multiple modes so your dog will be highly visible in the dark. Modes include steady light, rapidly flashing, and slow flashing.
Heated Dog Bed
When you and your pup get home from a chilly winter walk, you may want to try this K&H Pet Products Lectro-Soft Heated Outdoor Pet Bed to warm your dog up. He will likely spend lots of time snoozing in this warm, cozy bed after an exhilarating walk in the snow.
Dispenser for Dog Waste Bags
Whenever you take your dog for a walk, you will need to carry dog waste bags with you for picking up after your pup. The Earth Rated Leash Dispenser for Dog Waste Bags comes with an adjustable strap and a hook that holds the used bags for you. A bonus with this dispenser is that it comes already full of lavender-scented bags (15) so you can start using it immediately.
Walking Your Dog in Winter
Although walking your dog in winter can pose some challenges, it is important, rain or shine. Dogs need exercise and to get out of the house. A lot of dogs actually enjoy the snow and do well in cold weather. If you take some safety precautions and follow these simple safety tips, you and your dog can enjoy a good walk even when it’s cold out.
The important thing to remember is to pay close attention to your dog’s comfort as well as being aware of your surroundings. Use a leash and keep your pup on the sidewalk to keep him out of dangerous substances and terrain. Dress your dog (and yourself) appropriately for cold weather with a sweater and boots. And, finally keep some alternative activities in mind for those winter days that you have to stay indoors.