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Don’t Let the Winter Weather Deter You from Walking Your Dog!

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walking your dog in winter
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So…the winter winds are beginning to blow.  It’s cold outside.  The last thing you probably want to do is go outside just to get the mail, let alone take a walk. However, just as physical fitness is good for you, it is also good for your dog.  Walking your dog in winter can still add some fun and fitness to your life during these dark and cold months.

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Medium and Large Dogs

If you have a medium or large-size dog, they are usually more tolerant of colder weather and can stay outside a bit longer than their smaller counterparts.

Limit their time outdoors in the bitter cold, as, just like you humans, they can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia.

Long Haired and Double Coated Dogs

Longer-haired and double-haired dogs can stay outdoors longer than the short-haired ones. Regardless, when the temperature dips below freezing limit your dog’s time outdoors.  Even though they have heavy coats, frostbite is still possible.

Short-Haired Dogs

Even though many people believe sweaters, coats and booties are silly fashion statements when worn by dogs, the opposite is true.

In below freezing temperatures, short-haired dogs don’t have much to keep them warm.

If your dog doesn’t tolerate wearing cold weather gear, be very aware of signs he may be too cold and get him inside quickly.

Have you noticed your dog lifting his paw when outside in the cold or snow? This is a sign his paws are too cold.  Imagine going outside in the snow in your bare feet, that’s how it feels to dogs.

To protect your dog’s paws from the snow, ice, and salt, put specially made booties for dogs on him.  They will love you for it. If your dog won’t wear booties, be sure to wipe off his paws when you get home to remove ice or salt.

Senior Dogs

Senior dogs often don’t tolerate the cold as well as their younger counterparts, so limit your senior’s walk time in the cold weather (I limit to 10-15 minutes at the most when temperature drops below mid-30’s).

One senior short-haired dog I walk doesn’t tolerate wearing coat or booties, and he will start shivering in very cold weather.

Conclusion

Walking your dog in winter means you won’t be able to walk as far as you do in warmer weather.  It is important, though, to get out and get the blood moving for a few minutes. Like us, dogs tend to become stir-crazy and need a chance to burn some pent-up energy outdoors.

The weather here in Kansas City has been especially cold and icy the past week.  Just has we can be injured by slips and falls on ice, so can our dogs.  If you notice your dog limping after a walk, scale back walks temporarily, monitor your dog and take him to the vet if the limp doesn’t go away or gets worse after a day or two.

If your dog won’t wear booties, gently wipe his paws upon coming home, especially if he has walked in snow and ice.  That can hurt, and so can any salt used to melt the ice if it gets stuck in his paws.

When out walking in snow and ice, I’ve found YakTrax to be a GREAT help!  They slip easily on bottom of shoes/boots and keep you safe when walking in winter conditions.

If it is too cold for you, then it is too cold for your dog. If you can tolerate the cold air briefly, walking your dog in winter can be fun. He may enjoy a romp in the snow!

 

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