Temperatures have dropped significantly, but your dog still needs exercise – so how can you keep them safe, and when is it too cold to go out with them at all?
With temperatures set to drop as low as -10°C this week, dog owners have been warned to keep their pooches warm to prevent hypothermia, frostbite, as well as cracked paws, pads or noses.
Catrin George, animal wellbeing specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, has issued urgent advice to dog owners that “no dog should be taken out for a walk if the weather drops below -5°C” because you’re putting your dog at risk.
But of course, even if the weather is cold, you still want to take your dog for some exercise to ensure they stay fit and healthy, so Catrin has shared top tips so you and your pooch can stay safe.
If you’re going to go out in the cold, you need to take into consideration how big your dog is, and how thick their coat is. While no dog should be taken out at -5C, Catrin said “smaller dogs, puppies, elderly and skinny dogs are more susceptible to the chill, with anything below 0C proving potentially dangerous.”
She also recommended keeping walks short, limiting them to 20 minutes so they don’t get too cold. Also, try and go out during the warmer hours of 11am-3pm.
“Thin-coated dogs can benefit from a warm jacket but you need to be careful of putting a coat on a fluffy dog as it can stop their fur trapping heat that works as natural insolation.”, Catrin shared.
Catrin advises: “Even when we think that the weather is bearable, the same may not be true for your pet. When out and about in the winter months, it’s vital to keep an eye on your dog’s comfort. Important signs that your dog may be too cold include shivering, whining, reluctance to move, holding paws up, seeking warmth, or acting disoriented.
“If you see any of these, head home immediately and warm up. If symptoms continue, contact a vet for guidance to help prevent any cold-related illnesses.” Also, it’s important to avoid taking your furry friend for a walk during storms, as it can cause “distress”, and may cause them to “flee in an attempt to find safety.”
She recommended that when you’re out in the cold, you ensure you and your dog are visible, because if you’re not, it can cause accidents, injuries, and potentially losing sight of your dog.
Catrin said: “The key is to make sure you’re both wearing brightly-coloured or reflective clothing where possible. Carrying a torch or sticking to well-lit pavements can make sure you’re visible to others while ensuring you can see the path ahead of you.”
She also shared that it’s really important to ensure your dog stays away from “frozen bodies of water” as if they go near them and the ice breaks, they’re at risk of drowning. Keeping them on lead is also important too.
It’s important to ensure that your dog’s microchip is up to date, just “in case they stray or get lost”, according to Catrin.
She heartbreakingly shared: “A recent survey from Dogs Trust revealed that last year, more than 4,000 dogs were unable to reunite with their owners in 2022 due to their microchip contact details being incorrect, so pet parents must prioritise keeping these updated to be in with the best chance of finding their pets should they go missing.”
When you get home from a walk, it’s also important to check their fur and paws for “grit and salt”, and to wipe off any rain or snow from their legs, feet, and stomach.
“As a preventative measure, sensitive dogs could benefit from dog-friendly booties to keep their pads protected in the cold weather. This is especially important for dogs whose paws are chapped or sore”, Catrin said.
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