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How to Walk In a Winter Wonderland with Your Dog

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Just because a dog has a fur coat doesn’t mean he wants to go outside in the bitter cold without some protection. According to Steve Graham, “Dogs regulate heat through their paws, and snow and ice on their feet can be very uncomfortable, particularly if ice builds up in hair around the paws. Dog boots can protect those paws. Also, small dogs and short-haired breeds may be more comfortable in a sweater outdoors in winter.”

A quick zip out the doggie door or as you stand at the back door without coats and boots is generally fine but for any longer outings make sure your pets are warm and safe.

Doggie in Coat

Are you ready for winter? Is your dog? A lot of dogs love to play in the snow and go for nice long walks, but the cold and snow pose potential dangers.

Since you can’t keep your dog locked inside until spring returns, we’ve got some tips to keep him warm and safe during your winter walks.

After a walk, be sure to wipe your dog’s paws down with a towel or baby wipes to get all of the salt, mud and debris out from between the pads. Also check your dog’s legs and belly. Don’t worry – your dog will learn to love this, and you’ll appreciate not having to clean your house after being outdoors.

Dogs Can’t Ice Skate, Right?

A swim in the lake or pond on a hot summer’s day is a real treat for any dog, but in the winter, that same inviting body of water is frozen over and dangerous. People, let alone dogs, have a difficult time judging the thickness of a frozen lake or pond. If your dog falls through the ice, are you prepared to jump in after him? Probably not, so it’s best to steer your dog clear of water.

Leash Him Up

Picture it: A beautiful, wide-open field covered in fresh snow as far as the eye can see, and no other dogs or people around so the spot is your dog’s for the taking. But before you let your dog off his leash to make paw angels, know that snow can seriously hinder his sniffing capabilities, which puts him at risk for getting lost.

DogTopics.com says, “The snow and cold weather are very good at muffling scents, and dogs can easily become lost as their ability to follow their scent track back to you is dramatically reduced.”

Instead of letting your dog off his leash to run, run with him and make paw angels together. Your dog will get a kick out of watching you play in the snow, and you’ll probably have more fun doing this than you would just standing there in the freezing cold, watching your dog have all the fun.

Lastly, make sure he is wearing his collar with your current contact information just in case he does get lost. Better yet, get him a microchip in case he loses his collar. It’s well worth the one-time fee.

Don’t Drink That!

A puddle of water is very tempting to a thirsty dog, but you should never, ever let your dog drink from puddles, regardless of the time of year. You have no idea what could be lurking in that nasty brown water.

“Puddles can contain a number of hazards, particularly when you are in the city – antifreeze, screen wash and salt can all be toxic to your dog if swallowed,” states DogTopics.com. Ingesting bacteria from puddles can cause a serious infection called leptospirosis.

The same goes for dogs living in the ‘burbs or the country: Do not let them drink from any puddle.

It’s So Cold, Even Polar Bears are Staying Inside

If the weather man is warning you to stay inside because it’s bone-chillingly, take-your-breath-away, freeze-your-tushie-off cold, then it’s probably wise to keep your dog inside as well. Just because you can’t walk your dog doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find some way to help him burn off some energy indoors. Play a game of hide-and-seek or race for the treat.

If your dog spends a lot of time outside

A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Keep feral and stray cats warm

If there are ferals or strays in your neighborhood, remember that they need protection from the elements. It’s easy to give them shelter.

Look, Ma! It Glows in the Dark!

Winter brings with it longer nights and shorter days, which means you’ll most likely be walking your dog when it’s still dark or getting dark. Make sure you’re both wearing at least one piece of reflective clothing so drivers can see both of you. This can be something as simple as a reflective vest or collar – just make sure it’s clearly visible on your dog.

Dogs pretty much make any activity better, and just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you both can’t have fun. Use these tips and you and your dog will have a great time walking in a winter wonderland.

The best tip of all: keep your pets with you

Probably the best prescription for winter’s woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time.

Our California Gang Adjusted to the Wyoming Snow Amazingly Well

Photos of a Few Quick Jaunts Into the Backyard…

Furkid Adventures at Our New Home - Sundance Wy 5Angelina Prowling in -4 WeatherFollowing in Pepper's Traks 2Furkid Adventures at Our New Home - Sundance Wy 3Furkid Adventures at Our New Home - Sundance Wy 4

Photos by PHOTO: EubankPhoto and the UCLA Shutterbug

Related:

Winter and Holiday health hazards for animals

Winter Paw Care

Winter Skin-Saving Tips For Your Pooch

In addition of keeping your pets warm and protected during the winter and the cold, good nutrition and some supplements are equally important:  StemPet and StemEquine – Stem Cell Enhancers for Pets

January 27, 2013 - Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , ,

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