Winter is not the ideal season to walk and exercise your canine friend outdoors. However, your dog still needs exercise and mental stimulation to stay fit and happy. Let wintry weather be no excuse to slack on your dog’s exercise, here are some tips to walk your dog safely and comfortably even in winters.
Why you shouldn’t skip daily walks even in winters?
If dogs are not provided outlets for energy, they may develop many problems like:
- Behavioral problems such as excessive barking, whining, chewing, digging, biting or playing too rough.
- They can become depressed.
- They can become obese.
- They can develop joint pain.
All these problems can be addressed by walking and exercising your dog regularly.
Keep Your Dog’s Body Warm
Make sure your dog is properly bundled up before heading out to walk outdoors with your pet.
Many dogs, like Huskies, Samoyeds have built-in coats that can handle cold weather, but the dogs with short coats, like basset hounds, benefit from the additional warmth provided by a doggy jacket or sweater.
Other dogs who need to wear a coat when heading out, include – small dogs, like dachshunds, too old and too young dogs. When buying a coat/sweater or vest for your dog, make sure it is a water-repellant as wet clothing and cold weather aren’t a great combination.
When your dog doesn’t need to bundle up?
If your dog is just going out to relieve himself or for a quick stroll, there is no need to bundle him/her up. Also, if your dog will be exercising for a long time outdoors, then also you can skip the dog coat as his body will generate enough heat to keep him warm during exercising.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Dogs’ paws are very sensitive to extreme cold. They can become chapped, bleed and even get frostbite. So, keeping your pooch’s paws safe is very important.
Booties with secure traction and Velcro straps will not just keep them warm but will also protect them from snow and cold water. But some dogs do not feel comfortable wearing booties. You can get your dog accustomed to them by offering him/her treats and other rewards.
What to do when your dog doesn’t wear booties?
If your dog flat-out refuses to wear booties, you can try other methods to protect your dog’s paws. These include:
- Dipping your dog’s feet in warm water for some time after returning home.
- Then wipe off your dog’s paws using a clean towel
- Applying petroleum jelly or a protective wax/lotion for canine paw pads.
Avoid Puddles on your way
Avoid puddles of antifreeze on driveways and roadways during your walks because they can make the hairs around the pads of your dog’s paws wet. This water can refreeze and cause pain and irritation. It can also lead to chilblains and ice burns if left to build up.
Scoop the poop
Your dog’s poop may get hidden under blankets of snow during winters but once the ice starts melting, it can become quite a menace. Dog’s excrement contains many harmful bacteria that can result in pests and diseases. So, be a responsible pet parent, always clean up after your pet, even in winters.
Keep the outdoor walking sessions short
Take shorter walks outdoors during winter. Instead, encourage your pet to indulge in indoor activities more during winters. There are many games that can be played indoors, like ‘fetch’, ‘tug-of-war’, hide and seek etc. These games are not just enjoyable but provide good bonding exercises too.
Invest in a treadmill
If it’s really cold outside, you can consider training your dog to walk on a treadmill. It’s a great way to exercise your dog and some dogs really love it.
AVOID OUTDOOR WALKING SESSIONS IF THEY FALL SICK
Although our dogs love to play outside and explore their surroundings, extremely cold weather can be harsh on them too. They may not be able to tell us when they are in discomfort but their body does tell a lot about their health. Here are some symptoms that indicate winter-illness in dogs:
Hypothermia: Hypothermia is low body temperature caused by exposure to cold. The symptoms of hypothermia in dogs include – shivering, listlessness, lethargy, loss of appetite.
Frost Bite: Frostbite is tissue damage that occurs after exposure to extreme cold. Its symptoms include – Pale, gray and hard skin at the extremities. The skin turns scaly, red and swollen when warmed.
Antifreeze Poisoning: Antifreeze tastes sweet that is why dogs like its taste. When licked it causes poisoning, the symptoms of which are – wobbly walking, vomiting, nausea, seizure.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, rush your pet to the vet. All these conditions can be very dangerous – even fatal.
The weather may be dreadful but for our fun loving pets, it’s just another day to have fun. Using these tips you can ensure your dog’s wellbeing even in winters and embrace chilly days and happy plays.
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