Before you head out, you need to prepare well. This part is about choosing the right clothing and what to take with you, such as water and snacks.
Whether or Not to Dress Your Dog in the Snow
Whether your dog needs clothing depends on the breed and size. For example, a Golden Retriever with a thick coat usually doesn’t need an extra jacket. But for a smaller dog, like a Dachshund who is close to the ground, a dog jacket can help to keep cold and snow from the underside of their coat.
So, look closely at your own dog to decide if extra clothing is necessary. The important thing is that your dog is comfortable and safe during the walk in the snow.
What to take for a walk in the snow?
For a walk in the snow, you need to bring a little more than usual. If you are going to walk for more than two hours, take water with you. For shorter walks, this is usually not necessary. Snacks are a good idea, especially because the cold consumes more energy. Treats can be handy for calling your dog if he’s off-leash and for giving him as a reward.
Extra items for the snow are also important. A small hand brush can help to sweep snow off your dog’s paws. If salt has been spread, wipes are useful for cleaning your dog’s paws and face, so he doesn’t lick up the salt. A brightly colored dog leash or collar makes your dog more visible in the snow.
Your dog’s paws deserve extra attention when walking in the snow. A simple tip is to apply Vaseline to the footpads. This creates a protective layer against salt and ice.
It’s also smart to trim long hairs between the paws. These hairs can accumulate snow and ice, which is uncomfortable for your dog and can lead to clumps that are difficult to remove and make walking harder.
Before you go outside, check the weather and surroundings. If you are in a mountainous area, keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly. Slippery roads can cause injuries to you and your dog.
During the Walk
Once outside, the goal is to keep your dog moving. That doesn’t mean he has to run all the time; walking is fine too. The main thing is not to stand still for too long to prevent him from cooling down. Also be careful with how much snow your dog eats. Too much can not only cause stomach issues like gastric torsion but also increase urination because snow melts into water. And don’t forget to check your dog’s ears during the walk. If snow gets into the ears, it can cause problems later.
Also watch out for road salt and antifreeze on the ground. Both are toxic to dogs. If you think your dog has eaten any, call the vet immediately. Also, do not let your dog go onto the ice. The ice can be thin and your dog could fall through. If you think your dog has ingested antifreeze, call the vet immediately.
Fun Activities in the Snow
What I personally really enjoy about a walk in the snow is that you can see exactly where your dog has been sniffing around through their paw prints, such as tracks of a deer or birds. Besides just walking, you might also consider going jogging. It’s a different way to be active and your dog will probably enjoy it too. If your dog is off-leash, a search game with a treat is also a good idea. Throw the treat into the snow and let your dog search for it.
These are a few ways to make the snow walk not only safe and comfortable but also fun for you and your dog.
After the Snow Walk
When you return from your snow walk with your dog, there are several steps you can take to ensure your dog stays comfortable and healthy:
- Dry your dog off well: Snow and ice can make your dog wet, which can lead to hypothermia if not addressed. Use a towel to thoroughly dry your dog, making sure to reach all areas, including between the toes and under the belly.
- Check the paws and ears: Snow and ice can accumulate between your dog’s toes, and cold wind can irritate your dog’s ears. Check the paws for ice balls, snow, or damage, and inspect the ears for signs of irritation or discomfort.
- What to do if you think your dog has eaten antifreeze: Antifreeze is extremely toxic to dogs, but unfortunately, some dogs find its sweet taste appealing. If you suspect that your dog has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately. It is crucial to act quickly, as antifreeze poisoning can be fatal within a few hours.
- Clean paws well after the walk: It is important to clean your dog’s paws to remove any residues of salt, antifreeze, or other chemicals used on the roads and paths. These substances can be irritating or even toxic to your dog. Use warm water and a soft cloth or sponge to gently clean your dog’s paws and then dry them well.
By following these steps after each snow walk, you can help ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy during the winter months.