Temperatures are dropping at the moment and with sub-zero temperatures overnight, those morning walks are going to be chilly! Most dogs don't mind walking in the cold (with the exception of certain sighthounds, such as Sox, our elderly lurcher, who would much rather stay on the sofa in front of the fire, thank you very much!). But it's worth bearing in mind that dogs do feel the cold, so here are a few tips to help keep them toasty and safe:
1. Invest in a warm coat or fleece. There are plenty of options out there and your choice should partly be guided by your dog. If for example you have a spaniel or cockapoo, who is quite low to the ground and quite fluffy, snow can be a real problem as it tends to stick to their coats:
Left unguarded you might soon find that your dog is almost immobilised once the snow starts to build up, and although it's quite a funny sight, it's not much fun for your dog. Our own little Bella had a fantastic Equafleece with full leg coverage. It wasn't cheap, but it was absolutely brilliant at stopping her feathering from becoming clogged up with snow as well as keeping her nice and warm. It was also bright orange making her very easy to spot if she decided to make a break for it!
If you have a taller dog with less fur, then there are some lovely, snug, windproof and waterproof coats such as this Ireenuo one:
2. Keep an eye on puppies and older dogs in the cold. Puppies especially can get very excited in frost and snow but will quickly get cold, so only let them play for very short spurts and be prepared to pick them up and cuddle them to warm them up if necessary. You may be better off, space allowing, having frequent, short play sessions in your garden in the snow so that you can quickly bring them indoors to warm up, rather than setting off for a longer walk where you're not near a warm spot for them (don't forget your car will be cold when you return to it as well). Older dogs are usually quite good at letting you know that they've had enough but it is better to err on the side of caution and keep walks short, as their circulation is likely to be less efficient and they also won't be running around keeping warm like the youngsters.
3. Use paw wax such as Musher's Secret to help protect their paws from becoming cracked and sore during very cold weather. If the roads and/or pavements have been gritted, then your dog will be putting her naked little pads onto salt as well as very cold ground, so protecting her pads with a wax balm can help to make them more comfortable.
4. Also be aware that products such as anti-freeze and rock salt can be poisonous to pets, so be sure to wash or wipe your dog's feet when you come back from your walk so that she doesn't lick any off.
5. Keep your dog away from frozen ponds and lakes - they can get into serious trouble if the ice breaks and they can't get out (and you can get into serious danger trying to rescue them, too!).
6. Don't leave your dog in a parked car on really cold days. The car will very quickly cool down once the heating is off, and if you're on the way back from a walk with a damp or wet dog, she will quickly get very, very cold. If you do need to run an errand, you're better off either dropping your dog at home in the warm, or taking her with you if you're able to.
7. Don't forget your camera! You can get some fantastic photos of your dog having fun in the snow or rolling in the frost!
Finally, you may have noticed that your dog gets extra excited on frosty mornings - scent molecules clump together in the cold which makes all those smells much stronger and even more exciting - fun fact!
If you have any tips for cold weather walking, do please share in the comments :-)