Exercise is important for any dog, including during the winter months. It’s nice to walk in winter with your dog along snowy paths and streets, boots crunching, your trusted companion in tow. The only thing is: how do you make sure brisk winter dog walks with your four-legged friend are fun and safe?
During the walk
One of the biggest threats to your dog during an invigorating winter walk is undoubtedly the road salt. This can irritate the soft pads on your dog's paws and can be painful.
You can put a layer of Vaseline or some form of oil-based cream on and between your dog's toes and pads before the winter walk. This protects its paws not only against the irritation caused by the road salt, but also against dry skin and cracks.
Be careful in the snow
Your curious and excited dog will probably bite the snow. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but make sure that your pet doesn’t eat too much of it. After all, the cold can cause a range of issues, such as nausea, cramps or diarrhoea.
Furthermore, avoid ice spots: just like people, dogs can also get hurt when they slip. And dogs might also damage their muscles, tendons and joints when they slide on slick frozen surfaces. Don't let your dog walk over ice-covered pools or streams. If your four-legged friend falls through, the risk of drowning or hypothermia is particularly high.
Not every dog can withstand cold weather. It doesn’t hurt to put a short-haired, small, young or old dogs (puppies or dogs over the age of seven) in a jacket. An extra protective layer keeps them warm and dry. In addition, the snow does not get stuck in your dog's fur. If you keep moving, you’re less likely to get cold...and that goes for both of you.
During the cold months there’s a good chance that morning and evening walks will take place in the dark. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re clearly visible with reflective jackets, belts or leashes.
After the walk
Rinse your dog's paws with lukewarm water or clean them with a damp cloth after your winter dog walks. Notice the cushions are still damaged despite the Vaseline? Then consider dog shoes or ask your vet for advice.
Has your dog been for a long walk in the snow ? Then it will appreciate a warm, dry and cozy place to lie down and rest. Make sure it’s not too close to stoves or radiators, as it could get burned.
In winter, your dog may expend a lot of energy to keep warm. Therefore, it may be a good idea, in consultation with the vet, to switch to a more energy-rich diet . Finally, a vitamin boost during the dark months is not a bad idea.