As the temperature starts to drop, you may be wondering how, or if, you’re supposed to walk your dog in the freezing winter months. You should continue to walk your dog on a daily basis as they need the exercise and it’s good for them to get out and get some fresh air. However, you should be aware of the cold weather so you can make sure the walk is safe and enjoyable for your dog.
1. Keep Your Dog Warm
Not all dogs are suited for walking in Virginia‘s cold weather, so you need to take the extra steps to ensure they are as comfortable as possible as your walking them in the winter. A small detail that many people overlook is the hair between a dog’s toes. If this hair is too long, it can be very easy for ice to accumulate which can cause temporary lameness and difficulty or pain when walking. Either make sure this hair is kept short, or invest in a pair of boots that comfortably fit on their paws. If your dog isn’t in need of the extra insulation that a winter boot can provide, you can also look into thin rubber boots that can easily be slipped on the paw and allow them full movement. A third option is to get paw wax that can act as a barrier between their paws and the cold exterior.
Another reason for getting boots is such a good idea is because when you walk your dog on snow or ice, their paws are at a greater risk of getting dried out. This can make your dog get colder faster, and also cause them severe discomfort. When you come in from your walk, you should take the time to get a warm washcloth to not only warm up your dog’s paws but also to get rid of any salt or ice melting chemicals that have collected on your dog’s paw.
2. Keep it Short
You should adjust how long your walks are according to the weather outside. When it’s super cold outside, keep them as short as possible for the comfort of both you and your dog. This also means you should take advantage of days when it’s warmer outside to really give your dog a long and good walk. If there’s snow on the ground, it’s important that you plan the route of your walk ahead of time. You want to stick to known sidewalks or paths to keep your dog from stepping on something dangerous.
3. Choose The Right Time To Walk
There are shorter hours of daylight during this time of year, so finding the time to walk your dog when it’s sunny out can be challenging. However, this is actually a super important tip because it can be much colder outside during the nighttime. Try to plan your schedule ahead of time so you can fit your dog’s daily walk into the warmer hours of the day.
4. Watch Out For Frostbite
You should be aware of the signs of frostbite for dogs. You need to keep an eye on their ears, nose, food pads and tails as these are the most common places where frostbite occurs. You’re looking to see if the skin is pale, cold and hard and if it turns red and puffy after it warms a bit. Don’t allow your dog to lick, scratch or chew at any potentially affected areas. Be sure to use a warm rag on the area to help soothe the discomfort.
5. Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Snow
Eating snow may not seem like it would be such a big deal, but it can be dangerous. You have no way of knowing what’s in the snow. It’s very possible for harmful chemicals to be in the snow or for it to have small choking hazards hidden within it.
6. Hire Dog Walking Services
One of the best ways to walk your dog in the winter is by hiring professional dog walking services. Dog walking services not only give you the benefit of being able to stay out of the cold, but it’s also great because your professional dog walking services will be trained and certified so they will know the proper way to walk your dog in the cold. Dog walking services can also be particularly helpful during this time of year in ensuring your dog gets walked during daylight hours. Your job might cause you to get home after the sunsets and the temperature drops, which could be harmful to your dog if it’s too cold. Having a dog walker will allow you to avoid this problem. Be sure to reach out to Paw Pals for more information and to book your dog walker. If you are going out of town for the holidays and are unable to walk your dog daily, Paw Pals also offers dog sitting services to walk and care for your dog while you are out of town.