Winter dog walks in Christchurch

November 2, 2016

We hate to say it, but winter is on the way… and it’s a whole different kettle of fish compared with walking your dog in the warmer months. So the team at our Marlow Drive practice is happy to share our experience and offer a few tips for dog walks in cold weather.

Ask us for winter advice

However much you might not fancy walking in the cold or wet, it’s just as important for your dog to exercise in winter as it is in summer. It’s good for their physical AND mental well being, so gives them the best chance of staying healthy and happy.

Dogs in cold weather

Just like people, dogs vary in their tolerance of cold. Age, activity level, type of coat, body fat level, body shape and health will all determine how well they cope – and this needs to be taken into account when planning your outings. And remember that cold weather may exacerbate arthritis, so an arthritic dog may be stiffer than usual on cold winter mornings in Christchurch. If your house gets colder in a cold snap, you may also need to move your dog’s bed to somewhere warmer.

Snow and ice – and their effects on dogs

Elderly dogs and those with arthritis may find snowy or icy ground difficult to negotiate, so plan your route and distance accordingly. If ice accumulation – which can cause sudden lameness during a walk – is a problem, you can try clipping the hair between your dog’s toes as a preventative measure. Cold weather conditions can also lead to cracked or bleeding pads, so check your dog’s feet frequently for injury.

It’s also important not to allow your dog to walk on frozen ponds – if the ice doesn’t support his weight and he falls in, he could drown. And never follow your dog into a pond or river. Several owners have drowned while trying to ‘save’ dogs, which subsequently escaped from the water on their own.

Coats for dogs

Dogs who feel the cold may benefit from wearing a coat or sweater – but never put a wet coat onto a dog, because it will make it colder. And if you put booties or ‘dog socks’ on your pet, make sure they fit properly and check frequently for rubbing.

It’s also vital to keep your dog away from substances used in winter that might affect them, such as antifreeze (which is severely poisonous) and salt used to grit pavements (which can damage their feet). If contact occurs, please give us a call for advice.

If you have any particular concerns about your dog during wintertime – for example, if they’re very young or old, or have a specific health problem – please do consult our vet nurses.