Walking your dog during the winter months can be more of a chore than a chance for you and your best friend to enjoy some time outside. For much of the country, it is a period of cold, dreary and shortened days that can make it hard to embark on an evening stroll. It’s still necessary to get your pup exercise, but there are a few things to be aware of when walking outside in the cold and dark.
1. How to walk your dog in the cold
Depending on breed, size, and age, dogs face risk of hypothermia in temperatures as high as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. While larger dogs and breeds with thicker coats are better suited for the cold, smaller dogs can’t tolerate cold temperatures for long. Puppies and senior dogs are the most vulnerable.
Check the temperature, including wind chill, before heading outside. Dog sweaters and winter coats can retain heat and repel moisture and are a good option if your dog doesn’t have a protective winter coat of their own. Remain vigilant and attentive to your dog's behavior during your walk. She may shiver, hunch over and put her tail between her legs, whine, or pick up her feet if she’s too cold.
2. Protect your dog’s feet to protect their health
Chemicals like antifreeze have a sweet taste that’s attractive to dogs, but ingesting it can cause extreme sickness or even be fatal. Keep an eye out for puddles or spills. If your dog walks through antifreeze or salt, wipe their feet with a wet towel to remove any lingering chemicals.
Take notice if your pup is licking their paws or they become drier than normal. Applying a protective product to their feet before you go out can keep their paws from becoming irritated or dry. A Goin’ In Style favorite is Musher’s Secret food-grade wax*.
3. Stay visible and alert in the dark
In the shortened days of the winter months, you may have no other option than to walk in the dark. It’s important to take added measures to keep you and your dog safe during your stroll.
Keep a flashlight on hand or use a headlamp to scan the ground for icy patches. Added light allows other walkers to know you’re coming and gives you control over what you’re able to see. Store your flashlight in the Dog Walker Organizer Bag to remain hands-free and attentive to your surroundings.
A reflective vest for yourself and your pup will also help with visibility—allowing drivers to see you and pass by safely. Make sure to walk on sidewalks when possible and stick to roads with street lights. Remain vigilant and take extra precautions to stay safe so you can walk your dog year-round.
*This is not an ad or paid sponsorship.