Walking your dogs in the winter when it’s freezing – and how to protect them

A stock image of Dachshund dogs. Gayle Smillie was walking her four pets when a couple tried to steal one of her miniature Dachshunds

Snowy conditions and frosty temperatures are hard for most of us – our dogs are no different. Here’s what you need to know about walking your dogs in the winter

Dogs are at risk of hypothermia or frostbite during their winter walks (

Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Taking your dog out for a walk is important for your furry friend’s health. This is easy to do when the weather is bright and warm, but what happens in the winter?

Frosty winter weather gets to all of us, with many choosing to wrap up and stay in whenever they can help it. If it’s too cold for you, it should be no surprise that being out and about for a walk in the winter can be dangerous for your pooch, too.

Here’s everything you need to know about walking your dogs in the winter, including what temperature is too dangerous and ways to protect them from the cold.

When is it too cold to walk your dog in winter?







The breed and size of your dog impacts how it’s affected by the cold
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Image:

PA)

How the cold affects your dog depends on its size and the thickness of their coat – with big dogs being able to withstand the cold better than tiny or furless breeds.

For instance, thick-coated breeds like Siberian huskies, samoyeds and Newfoundlands are built for colder weather and actually tend to be more comfortable in the winter than in the summer.

Other breeds like greyhounds that are much thinner can get colder more easily, but still stay warm with a winter dog coat. However, small or medium-sized dogs with thin hair could be at risk if they go out if the temperature is 7C or lower

What temperature is dangerously cold to walk your dogs in?

Regardless of the breed or size, no dog should generally be out for a walk if the temperature is below – 6°C.

Smaller or medium-sized dogs are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite when it’s colder than -4°C. For bigger breeds or ones that have a thick coat, the temperature is less of concern until it falls to around -9°C.

No matter the breed, if you see your dog struggling during a cold-weather walk, this means its too chilly for them. Take note of their behaviour as they may shiver, slow down or stop, or whine and bark if they are feeling any form of discomfort.

What you can do to protect your dogs during cold walks







Winter coats and boots are helpful in keeping your dogs safe and warm during winter walks
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Just like you dress for the weather, dressing your dogs up for the cold can help them during their walk. Using coats and winter boots are both great ideas, however, be aware that your dog may not always react to them well.

Introduce coats to your furry friends carefully and slowly. Allow them to familiarise themselves with the coat by laying it on the ground and putting their favourite treats on it.

Then, try and train them to wear it by putting their head through the coat. If they start feeling uncomfortable or retreat from the coat when you try to put it on them, just try another time.

In terms of doggy winter boots, look for pairs that have a good sole and Velcro straps that are secure, so that their paws will be protected from the frosty ground.

If they don’t seem comfortable wearing boots, just make sure you carefully wipe their paws down after each walk to remove any harmful material such as salt and grit.

Other steps you can take to protect your dogs during winter walks includes getting a light-up collar to spot them in the darkness.

Also make sure you regularly trim the fur around your dog’s paws to prevent ice balls that form between the pads and toes of the feet.

Don’t walk them too close to frozen lakes and ponds as the ice may not be thick enough to support their weight.

In case they do end up falling in, don’t be tempted to go in after them because most dogs are strong swimmers that are likely to get themselves out rather than you going after them, risking the ice breaking even more.

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