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7 Top Tips to Make Winter Walkies Fun and Free From Harm
Dogs often love to play in the snow, and there’s nothing that’ll get in the way of their beloved walkies – but as the weather gets colder, it’s important to make sure your dog is safe and happy on those winter walks. Dog Listener Lucy Proctor has given us her 7 top tips:
1 – Invest in a well-fitting dog coat. Unless your dog lives in an outside kennel and has grown their coat accordingly, your dog, like us, is now used to central heating and will feel the temperature change. This is especially true of puppies, elderly, ill or arthritic dogs as well as thin-coated breeds such as Whippets and Greyhounds.
2 – Get into the habit of always checking your dog’s paws after every walk. In the winter, the ice, snow, salt, grit and other chemicals on the roads and pavements can cause serious harm, so check their pads when you get home for redness, cuts or anything else that is abnormal for your dog. Equally importantly, rinse their paws in lukewarm water to remove any grit or chemicals they may have picked up on the walk, then towel dry. Checking your dog’s paws after each walk all year round will ensure you know what they should look like in good health, making abnormalities far easier to spot.
3 – Keep the dog walks in the snow and ice shorter than usual to avoid frostbite. It can affect other parts of the body too, not just the paws. You know your dog, so monitor them on the walk.
4 – Booties are widely available now to protect your dog’s paws but make sure they have good grip to aid your dog’s ability to walk without slipping. If your dog won’t tolerate having booties on, then you can buy paw wax to help protect their paw pads, or even a thick coating of Vaseline. However, both wear off so it’s not as reliable as boots, and if applied poorly may not help at all so make sure to read the instructions thoroughly.
5 – Keep your dog’s paws trimmed. Some breeds with coats that need trimming regularly will have excess fur around the pads and legs (called feathering). The snow attaches itself to the fur and creates icy snowballs that hang off the coat and lodge in between the toes making it incredibly difficult and painful to walk. Keeping their coat and pads trimmed short will significantly reduce this problem.
6 – As you might have already noticed, a lot of these tips involve handling your dog’s paws. Get your dog or puppy used to having their paws checked over so you can check them any time you need to. As soon as you get your dog, gently manhandle the paws every day so it becomes a normal procedure in your dog’s mind – this can make future trips to the vets and groomers far less stressful for all concerned, especially your dog. Not all dogs are comfortable with having their paws touched, so the sooner you desensitise them to this, the better.
7 – Lastly, with winter weather comes more cleaning! Research your floor cleaning products carefully; there are a lot of products out there with chemicals in them that are toxic to pets. Your pets walk over the kitchen floor and their pads absorb the chemicals – on top of that, they will then lick their paws clean and ingest these chemicals. There are lots of natural cleaners you can use instead, so do your best to research what is safe for your pets.
Have fun and stay safe this winter!