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Winter is here and temperatures have dropped, but that doesn't mean your dog can't get his or her walks. As long as you take the proper precautions, winter walks are a great way to keep your pup healthy and physically active all through the season. Here are some ways to keep your dog safe on walks during the colder months:
The colder winter temperatures pose a risk for your dog to develop hypothermia or frostbite, which are two pretty serious conditions. Make sure to continually feel for your dog's body temperature on walks, including checking his or her ears, feet and legs. A dog jacket will help keep them warm by keeping their core body temperature up and is especially necessary if your dog doesn't have thick fur.
Your dog's paws need protection during the cold months for several reasons. For starters, salt and other ice melters can irritate or burn paws or make dogs sick if they lick their paws after exposure. Snow and ice can clump up and stick to the fur of your dog's paw pads and toes as well. And too much contact with snow and ice can increase the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
Before your walks, trim your dog's toe fur and nails to help prevent clumping. While on the walk, pay attention to the ground and frequently check your dog's paws. After your walk, inspect your dog's paws and wipe them with warm water. Alternatively, you can buy some dog booties to provide even more protection for your pup's paws
Winter is dark and that can be dangerous for you and your dog, especially when it's snowing. To keep you both safe, wear reflective gear to make sure that drivers can see you. There are several options for your pup, including reflective dog clothing like vests and jackets as well as leashes and collars. Reflective gear, however, only works when light shines directly on it so bringing flashlights and even attaching one to your dog, will provide extra visibility.
The winter darkness can also cause issues if your dog somehow gets away from you. Make sure all of your dog's identification and contact information is the most up-to-date. Having your dog microchipped is a great way to ensure he or she can be found if lost.
There are other ways for your dog to get exercise during winter that don't involve braving the winter weather for a walk. One great alternative is doggy daycare where your pup can run around indoors and play with other dogs. But there are other more affordable options like playing fetch or chase indoors, throwing kibble or treats around the home or even buying a laser pointer if your dog likes that.