With sparkling frosts and crisp, clean air, there is a lot to love about walking your dog in the winter, but cold temperatures and limited daylight hours can present some practical challenges.
In this blog, we’ve put together our top tips for keeping winter walks safe and enjoyable, as well as some alternative activities if it gets a little too cold for comfort.
Keep your dog warm and comfortable
Just like people, some dogs feel the cold more than others – for example, while huskies are at home in the snow, greyhounds struggle to keep warm and in very cold temperatures it may be better for them to stay at home. As well as breed, age, size and fur type are also factors, so do what’s best for your dog as an individual. For many, it’s worth getting them a nice, warm coat for chilly days.
Avoid de-icing agents
Antifreeze is highly toxic for dogs, but unfortunately many of them find it very tasty! Make sure any spills are cleaned up quickly and teach the all-important ‘leave it’ lesson. If your dog does accidentally lick up some antifreeze, contact your vet straight away.
Rock-salt, which is used to de-ice roads and pavements, can also be dangerous for dogs if they lick it off the ground or their paws, so it’s best to avoid it where possible.
Be mindful of winter wildlife
Did you know that the Solent coast hosts around 125,000 winter birds that migrate here from as far away as Siberia? If you’re walking on the beach, give them the space they need to thrive by sticking to footpaths or at the top of the beach – the birds are often feeding at the water’s edge.
Listen to your dog
If your dog is showing signs that they are too cold and not enjoying themselves, like shivering or whining, it’s probably time to head home. You know your dog best, so be vigilant and listen to what they’re telling you.
Stay safe and seen
With limited daylight hours we often end up walking in the dark, so make sure that you and your dog are both visible. Head torches are handy as they are nice and bright, and also help you see where you’re going. For dogs, there are lots of different options including LED collars, light up harnesses or flashing collar attachments. If you’re walking in the dark, we suggest finding one that works for you.
Don’t walk on thin ice
Make sure your dog doesn’t walk on ponds or lakes that have frozen over. While the ice might appear to be thick and solid, it may not be strong enough to support their weight and your dog could fall through.
Wash up after walkies
Grit from roads or dampness from rain and snow can irritate dogs’ skin, so give them a wipe down when you get home. It’s worth checking their paws carefully too, particularly if you have a long-haired dog as they are prone to ice and mud compacting between their pads, which can make it painful for them to walk.
Play games at home
When the weather is simply too horrible to venture outdoors, there are loads of games you can play at home with your dog to keep them busy and happy. Tug of war and hide-and-seek are great fun, or you could get creative and try some DIY enrichment activities.