Winter Walks

Mar 1, 2024 2:14:56 PM

Walking in a winter wonderland sounds idyllic but the reality of walking in the British winter months can prove to be quite the opposite sometimes. Here’s our handy guide to enjoying the great outdoors, even when it’s the coldest, wettest and greyest of days.

Layer up

As all dog walkers know, there’s a fine balance between being wrapped up warm and then finding yourself uncomfortably overheating after ten minutes of brisk walking. The trick is to dress yourself in layers, making sure you can remove and easily carry anything you need to. Scarves, body warmers, hats and gloves are all things you can use to make the layers work.

Some dog owners like to use dog coats and waterproofs to keep their dogs dry. If you opt for a dog coat make sure your dog is comfortable wearing it and that it fits well, not restricting any movement. It can save a lot of drying off time if it’s a particularly wet day. Dog coats are also useful for elderly or sick dogs who might not be so active and less able to generate their own heat.

Paw protection

Your dog’s paws are made for walking outside of course but we still need to be mindful of ground that is extra rough on their pads as the ground gets harder. And always clean their paws when you get home – gritting salt and anti-freeze can be highly toxic.

Ice and snow

A white and pretty vista makes a winter walk extra special but there are some additional considerations to bear in mind. A snow covered pathway can also hide anything sharp that

might be lurking beneath so it’s always good to be extra vigilant. Keep your dog off any iced over areas of water such as lakes or rivers – the freezing water presents a challenge, as does the ability to rescue them. The RSPCA also warns about compacted snow in your dog’s paws as it’s so uncomfortable for them.

It’s also advisable to discourage your dog from drinking out of puddles as the quality of water is unknown and could contain bacteria, anti-freeze and other nasties. Leptospirosis is a horrible disease that can be contracted via contaminated, standing water. Whilst there are only a few cases each year in the UK, it’s not worth the risk.

Be seen

For owners and dogs alike, being visible is really important as the nights draw in quickly and we are often out walking in the dark. This applies too if you are an early riser and you’re out with your pet first thing.

Bright, reflective clothing, collars and accessories are a good way to remain visible: keeping us safe and seen. If you are walking on a road, always face oncoming traffic as your visibility will be much higher – dusk and dawn are statistically the hardest times for drivers to see pedestrians.

Try to keep your dog on the inside of you, away from the traffic, and if you use an extendable lead, retract it fully so you are in complete control.

Hand-in-hand with this is the safety advice to stick to well-lit routes. Being aware of your surroundings is key so it’s worth considering your use of headphones and mobile phone. Having a charged phone to hand is a useful safety device but not if you’re unaware of what’s going on around you.

A torch is wise if you need to walk in unlit areas and it’s best to keep your dog on a lead unless you are completely comfortable and familiar with any open space you are walking in.

Cosy up

When you get home, make sure your dog is towel dried well and has access to drinking water and a lovely, cosy bed so they can relax and thoroughly dry off. And for us dog walkers, it’s probably time for a warming cup of tea!

References

https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/seasonal/winter/pets

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/nighttime-dog-walking-safety-33273

https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health-and-dog-care/health/health-and-care/a-z-of-health-and-care-issues/winter-dangers-to-dogs/

https://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/zoonoses-data-sheets/leptospirosis.pdf

 

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