With plummeting temperatures due to return this week, it is important to make sure our four-legged friends are prepared for the cold. After a fairly mild Christmas for most across the UK, temperatures are set to drop below 0°C over the next few days.
Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, is issuing guidance to owners about how to keep your dog safe and warm during the cold snap, including how to avoid potential hazards on your winter walks.
Runa Hanaghan, Deputy Veterinary Surgeon at Dogs Trust, said: “There are lots of simple things you can do to help your dog stay safe and warm during cold weather, however, there are things owners need to watch out for too which may be hazardous for our dogs.
“Winter walks can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to exercise caution when conditions worsen by keeping your dog on a lead and taking steps to improve their visibility with the darker nights”
Winter Health Advice:
Antifreeze is highly poisonous to dogs. Keep it well out of their reach and mop up any spills immediately. Always seek veterinary advice if you are concerned your dog may have licked or ingested any, from the spill or their paws.
Never leave your dog in a car during extreme weather, hot or cold.
Make sure you wipe your dog’s legs and feet when you come indoors after a snowy walk. The grit from the roads can irritate their feet. Grit can also be dangerous if your dog licks its paws. Again, seek veterinary advice if you are concerned your dog may have licked or ingested any.
Particularly important if you have a puppy, short-haired or old dog in providing them with a sensible winter coat to stay warm when you go out. Consider letting your dog's winter coat grow to improve their warmth, it can still be kept brushed and untangled even when it is thicker.
Winter Walking Advice:
Keep your dog on a lead if it is snowing heavily. Snow can be disorientating so they might easily become lost.
Make sure your dog is microchipped, the contact details are up to date, and your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag whilst out walking, so if they do get lost, they can be reunited with you.
As the nights are dark, consider using a reflective collar and lead or a high visibility coat or flashing collar to increase your dog’s visibility in the dark. Owners can use a torch and wear high-vis jackets too!
Do not let your dog walk on frozen ponds. The ice may not be thick enough to take their weight. If your dog does fall through the ice never be tempted to go in after them; call the emergency services immediately.
Regularly check that your dog’s leads, collars, and harnesses are all functioning safely and not at risk of wear and tear damage during winter weather.
Snow can freeze between dog’s paws and owners might find ice stuck to the bottom which can be uncomfortable and make it difficult for them to walk. Rinsing and drying their paws after walks is very important.
Keeping your dogs active in winter:
If you are spending more time indoors if the weather's bad, always make sure your dog has plenty to do – long-lasting tasty chews, or puzzle-toys such as durable food-releasing toys and snuffle mats are useful for giving your dog something enjoyable to do without needing your constant attention.
You can provide entertainment for your dog when parks are closed by walking different ways to your normal route, so they can experience new sights, sounds and smells.
Incorporate training sessions within your walks - take treats with you and reward your dog for doing a trick along each street you walk down. Bring their favourite toy and have a game outside if there is a safe place to do so while they are safely on-lead.
You can play these types of games indoors too – try hiding their toys for them to search for and playing with them as a reward when they find them.
Treat your dog to some fun and games that are educational and valuable by enrolling them in a Dogs Trust Dog School training course! We offer short training courses for puppies, adolescents and adult dogs teaching important skills in a fun and positive environment.