The nights are drawing in, the air is getting damp, it’s cold and dark outside and there may be snow in sight – but our four-legged friends still need their exercise!
When exercising your dog in winter it is important for everyone to be safe, whether they have four legs or two. It’s advisable to walk on well-lit footpaths and if trying a new walk always try to do it in daylight first.
Dress for the weather – this is both you and your dog. Just because they have a fur coat does not mean they don’t feel the cold, especially if they get wet. If you have a pet that needs regular clipping consider allowing them to get a little bit longer over the winter months, this may take a little more brushing. Think about waterproof coats for when they are out walking – there are even some that cover all the way down their legs.
For you – carry a torch and consider a reflective jacket.
For your pet – there are lots of products available to keep them visible, including: reflective coats, collars and leads. The disadvantage of these is that they are only visible when light is shining on them. To give a constant light there are leads, collars and tags that have LED lighting to help keep your pet constantly visible. If you are in a safe area and want to throw toys for your dog there are various glow in the dark or LED toys available.
Salt & Grit
Although this makes walking and driving safer for us by reducing the risk of slipping, it is unfortunately dangerous to your dog. Prolonged contact can cause chemical burns where pads can become cracked, red, inflamed and blistered. If ingested through eating snow or grooming after walks, it can lead to an increase in the sodium concentration in the blood. This could cause an increase in thirst, vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases, kidney failure. It is therefore advisable to try and avoid your dog walking over gritted areas and wash and dry their feet after each walk.
When walking on snow, dogs especially those with particularly furry feet, can get balls of ice between their toes and surrounding fur. These are uncomfortable, like walking on pebbles. Check between your dog’s toes if they suddenly become lame when out on a walk and when they come home from a walk, or in/out of the garden. Trimming the fur in between toes may help prevent them but if they do occur bathe their paws in warm water to melt and remove them.
Don’t allow your dog to walk on frozen ponds as the ice may not be thick enough to support their weight.
Since 2016 it is a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped. It is also essential that you keep all your details up-to-date. During the dark nights it is possible that your dog may get spooked and, if off their lead, could run away. A microchip with up-to-date details is essential in ensuring your dog is returned to you if found.
Take your mobile phone with you so you are able to ring in case of emergencies.