Walking in a winter wonderland

Keeping your dog safe on bonfire night
29th September 2017
Don’t forget vaccinations and boosters
29th November 2017

As the nights get darker and the days get cooler, it becomes increasingly tempting to stay indoors, cuddled up under a cosy blanket rather than getting outdoors to do some exercise.

But, as a puppy owner it’s important to make sure your four-legged friend continues to get regular exercise in winter to prevent health issues, behavioural problems and boredom. It’s also important though that you keep safe when you are out and about in the dark with your pup.

So, here are our top tips for keeping yourself and your puppy safe and healthy over the winter.

  1. Invest in a torch and reflective jacket for yourself and a reflective collar or lead for your dog – this will ensure you are seen by vehicles and other dog walkers. You could also attach a bell to your dog’s collar so you can easily find them while you are outdoors and if your dog enjoys playing with a ball, a light up one will ensure they can continue playing their favourite games as the nights get darker.
  2. Stick to familiar routes – taking a route you have walked several times in daylight will help your dog to feel secure and will give you the opportunity to identify any potential hazards you might not see in the dark such as potholes or loose paving stones.
  3. Consider other dogs and people – if your dog is nervous, it’s best to keep them on a lead or in sight when walking in the dark so they aren’t spooked by any other dogs, joggers, walkers or cyclists.
  4. Stick to well-lit routes – plan an evening route which will be lit by street lights and avoid deserted parks or canal towpaths. It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings and not get distracted by your mobile phone or listening to music. Winter is the ideal time to buddy up with another local dog owner and plan evening walks together.
  5. Plan more exercise at weekends – if the dark evenings mean your pup is getting less exercise during the week, why not plan some longer, more interesting adventures at weekends or on your days off work? Keep an eye on your dog’s weight over the winter months – if they are exercising less and putting on weight, you may need to cut down on the amount they’re eating.
  6. Keep an eye on your pup’s feet – snow, ice, grit and salt can often build up in the space between your puppy’s pads, causing painful abrasions. Check their paws after every walk in these conditions to ensure they are clean and healthy.
  7. Beware of antifreeze – antifreeze is poisonous but its sweet taste makes it attractive to dogs if they find any spilt from your car radiator. If you think they are displaying symptoms of antifreeze poisoning – appearing drunk – contact a vet immediately.
  8. Wrap up your dog – older dogs and those with short, thin coats will benefit from wearing a protective coat when outdoors in winter. If your dog has a very thick coat, you need to make sure they don’t get too hot if wearing a coat.
  9. Never leave your dog in the car – just like you wouldn’t leave your dog in a hot car over the summer, the same applies to a cold car in the winter. Both extremes of temperature can be damaging to your dog’s health.
  10. Stay away from frozen water – never let your dog walk on frozen ponds, canals, rivers or lakes because you can’t tell if the ice is thick enough to take their weight. If they do fall through some ice into water, don’t go in after them because this could leave you both in danger. Instead encourage them to swim back to you.

Winter can be an exciting time for puppies, especially if they get the opportunity to run around in snow for the first time, but it’s important to follow these top tips to ensure your four legged friends stay safe and healthy throughout the coldest months.