Social media is currently full of pictures of dogs frolicking in the snow but is it always safe walk your dog in the white stuff?
As pretty as it may look, the cold can bring inherent dangers so wrap up warm – both you and the dog.
Make sure that you wear sturdy foot ware – it’s all too easy to be knocked off your feet by a sudden lurch on the lead. However, being on the lead is preferable in these conditions. Dogs can become disorientated as the snow swirls around them and your calls to ‘come’ are lost on the wind.
Whenever you take your dog out, you should prepare for the worst – them running off or getting lost.
Ensure that your dog is microchipped and your owner contact details up to date, always have an identity tag on their collar – this is the law and good common sense – and consider investing in a tracker which can be attached to a collar and linked to your phone, particularly if your dog is prone to running off.
Your four-legged friend may have a furry coat but they lose most of their body heat through their paws and so cutting down the duration of your walk is a good idea.
Dog coats may seem like the latest fashion fad but in this weather the extra insulation and waterproof materials can help your dog maintain a healthy body temperature.
The hidden danger of snow is what lies beneath…the salt and grit put down on roads and pavements to prevent people from slipping and cars from crashing.
This salt can be particularly harmful to pets because it contains chemicals which can burn their pads on prolonged contact or if they lick their paws. Salt can cause dehydration, liver failure and pancreatitis, while antifreeze contains the chemical ethylene glycol, which can be lethal when ingested.
If you are taking your dog for a walk, consider snow boots. They may look a bit silly and your dog may take a while to get used to them but they provide protection from these chemicals and any sharp grit which may embed into their feet. Alternatively wash your dog’s paws as soon as you get back – carry a little water in the car or keep a bottle in the porch to rinse them off as soon as possible.
If you are heading out in the car, don’t leave your dog in there without you for too long. It doesn’t take long for the temperature to drop inside a vehicle.
Another danger of walking a dog in the snow is likelihood of ice balls forming between the pads and toes of the feet, or snowballs attaching to its coat. Long-haired breeds are particularly susceptible as are those with ‘feathering’. These weighty additions can be uncomfortable for the dog so try to knock them off before them become impacted or rinse them away with tepid water on returning home.
If you are heading out after dark, make sure that you can see and can be seen. Fluorescent tabards, collars and leads are helpful, as is a pendant light which you can attach to your dog’s collar. For owners, beanie hats fitted with an LED light are useful, as is carrying a torch.
In short, be prepared, take adequate kit and clean and dry your dog when you get home…and PS don’t eat the yellow snow!