As we’ve discussed, it’s critical to keep your dog healthy during the winter, as the cold can introduce many potential unfortunate illnesses or injuries. However, it’s just as important to ensure they remain active during this time as well. Unless you’ve trained them to walk themselves on a treadmill or don’t mind them playing fetch all over the living room, what other options are there in going on walks while staying comfortable and as warm as possible?
Realize that if your dog’s exercise requirements aren’t met, that excess energy can start to manifest in other ways–such as chewing up furniture or hyperactive behavior that can be difficult to deal with indoors. Inactive dogs can also gain too much weight over the winter, which puts them at risk of breathing and cardiac problems. Even in the coldest areas, it’s quite possible to still enjoy regular walks with your pup!
1. Start with Yourself – If you can’t stay warm enough while on a walk, you’re going to be less motivated to get your dog out as well. Start by making sure you have warm and insulated clothes, boots, gloves, hats, and other winter gear you can bundle up in. Once you’re set, it’s time to pay attention to the pooch.
2. Invest in a Good Dog Jacket – Not all dogs fully require a jacket or vest for themselves, but it’s never a bad idea to check them out. Some people worry about their dogs over-heating; if it’s could enough out, though, that shouldn’t be a problem. Watch your dog while out on walks during cold weather and see if they show signs of being chilled–shivering, etc. Then try out a vest and see if it cures the problem.
3. Protect Their Paws – Dog paws can not only get cracked by the cold but can also be exposed to de-icing chemicals around town. Booties are one simple solution, though you may need to take some time to train your pup in being comfortable with them. If booties aren’t an option, petroleum jelly can be spread on the pads to keep them insulated–but be sure to clean their paws off as soon as you get home so they don’t track it around the house (or lick the jelly off).
4. Don’t Get Wet – Keep your dog away from rivers, ponds, or other water sources they might be tempted to take a dip in. Getting wet will only exacerbate the chill and can get nasty chunks of ice stuck in their fur and between their paw pads (remember what we said about protecting those?). Oh, and we’d highly recommend you not go swimming in frigid water either!
Have you been able to get out and take your dog for regular walks this winter? Have you tried but they’ve struggled with the chill? Consider investing in some of the measures to see if you can help make it a fun activity again. If all else fails, talk with your vet to see if they have any recommendations based on your dogs age and current health status.
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