Top tips for winter walks

How to keep your dog safe in the colder weather

Now that winter’s with us and the temperature is dropping fast, it’s important to know how to keep your furry friend safe in the cold. John Ambler, My Family Vets vet and Clinical Director at Oakfield Vets, tells us more…

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It’s important to keep taking your dog for walks – no matter how much you dread leaving the house during these bitterly cold days! By following just a few simple steps, you can help keep your dog safe & comfortable when they’re out and about in the cold weather…


Get your dog a warm and comfy coat


A comfy coat will help your dog stay nice and toasty on their walks – especially really young/old dogs, or dogs with thin fur such as whippets or Dalmatians.


Let your dog adjust gradually to the dropping temperature


Try shortening your dog’s walks, once the temperature drops, and gradually increasing the time they spend outside on a daily basis. This will help stop the cold from becoming too overbearing – you might find it useful for yourself too! 


Make the most of the daylight


The rise of remote working may mean that more owners can take advantage of daylight hours.


Walking your dog during daylight is preferable to darkness because it lets you keep an eye on them, and it’s usually warmer during the day. If you are walking when it’s dark, consider investing in some high-visibility clothing for both yourself and your dog. 


It’s also a good idea to make sure your dog is microchipped and that your microchip details are all up to date – just in case!

BorrowMyDoggy Cockapoos sitting on snow dusted grass
Doggy member Billy and Bella

Watch out for antifreeze


If you’re using antifreeze to de-ice your car this winter, be mindful that this substance is highly poisonous to dogs! Even worse, it tastes delicious to them so they’ll actively seek it out if they encounter any. 


Make sure you keep your own antifreeze hidden somewhere safe, clean up any spillages immediately and keep an eye out for potential spillages in the street too. 


If in doubt, use the lead


So winter brings the threat of darkness and potential antifreeze spills – on top of that, there’s black ice, which can cause a serious accident if your dog slips. 


You can avoid potential dangers easily by keeping your dog on the lead when necessary. When passing the neighbours’ cars, for example, or a well-known hotspot for black ice. 


Utilising the lead is extra important if your dog is older, arthritic or highly excitable.


Check your dog’s paws after walks


Imagine walking outside on the freezing pavement in bare feet! 


Dogs’ footpads are more adjusted to extreme cold than ours, but it’s a good idea to wash their feet thoroughly after every walk. This will keep the footpads in good conditio, and enable you to remove salt/grit from the roads that might have been lodged between their toes. 


Consider a spot of grooming


You might think your dog needs all the fur they can get in these extreme temperatures but in some areas, grooming can really help. 


If your dog is extra furry, think about trimming the hair between their toes – this will keep it from getting too icy, especially once the snow starts to fall. 


You can also get special balms for your dog’s feet to help the skin recover from the harsh cold. Think of it like hand cream for dogs! 


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