We didn’t quite get a white Christmas here in Lancaster (if you were lucky enough, we’d love to see the photos of your pups enjoying the snow!) but now the weather has got colder and it seems now like every day is filled with the promise of waking up to sparkling white snow. It’s best to be prepared ahead of a snowfall so that you’re ready to enjoy it with your pooch in tow… but what do you need to consider to make sure of the safety of you and your dog in the snow?
Walking in the Snow
If you’re planning on a nice dog walk through the snow, there are a few things to remember to ensure the safety of you and your dog in the snow. For one, the ground is going to be slippery – this is the case for both you and your dog, so remember to take your time. Dogs cope better with this than we do, so take care they don’t bound off ahead and pull you over.
Keep a close eye on any cars attempting to drive through the snow – its far easier to lose control in the snow so it’s a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open for anybody out of control and react accordingly. Importantly, keep your dog on a short leash near roads, as you don’t want to be trying to grab them to get them out of the way. Additionally, allow drivers to see you and take care by being highly visible to them. Remember that a day off from walks isn’t likely to harm your dog, so if they really don’t want to go outside, you don’t have to force them.
Clearing the Snow
When considering the safety of you and your dog in the snow you will probably want to clear away snow from the paths around your home. Make sure that anything you use to clear away the snow is pet-safe. Road grit can be uncomfortable and salt can be poisonous if your pet takes to eating the snow, so if in doubt stick to shovelling the snow rather than spreading anything potentially toxic.
Keeping Your Dog Warm in the Snow
Unless your dog is a hardy Northern breed such as a Husky or Malamute, the chances are good that they weren’t bred to cope with low temperatures. Some breeds, such as the Chihuahua, were bred in far warmer climates and cope even less well with any temperatures below zero. If you do decide to go out, make sure you follow these tips to keep your pup warm.
Coats are especially useful for breeds with thin skin or short hair, such as Greyhounds or Chihuahuas, but can be used for any dog that needs one. They come in all shapes and sizes, from waterproof to fleece-lined, waxed to quilted, high-visibility to fun-themed and even full wrap to back only. You know your dog best, so pick a coat that fits well and has the functions you need. If you’ve got a very low-slung dog, a coat that covers the belly will probably keep them warmer than a coat that only covers the back, but remember to ensure they have plenty of room to manoeuvre and toilet without getting the coat wet.
For some dogs, boots are excellent. They can protect long-coated breeds from getting snow and ice balls stuck in their coat and between their toes. They’re also good for smaller breeds that would otherwise be too worried about going out. One advantage of using boots for dogs is that they’re less likely to track mud into the house! It’s important to get the right size of boot, and this makes them difficult to buy online- but not to worry, lots of pet shops will stock them this time of year.
How to Warm Your Dog Safely
Just like us, dogs shouldn’t be warmed up too quickly as this can be uncomfortable and even cause medical problems. If you get in from outside and find your dog is wet, drying them off well is a good way to ensure they don’t get too cold. In fact, we recommend leaving a dog towel by the door so that you can dry them straight off. Standing them in a lukewarm bath just covering their feet is a good idea (with one of our special shampoos to make them smell lovely!), as this means any ice balls will dissolve and you can sluice off any road grit or other irritants before drying them thoroughly.
If the indoors is warm, that’s likely all they need- but if you’ve not had the heating on and the house is a little chilly, a warm dry ‘indoor’ coat may help them to warm through more quickly. We particularly like these coats from Trover Coats as they’re excellent at wicking away water and keeping your dog warm. We have them for sale too.