23rd January 2023
The winter weather can not only affect us humans, but it can also affect your dogs too. Despite their thick coat, our furry friends can still be vulnerable to the elements.
We asked our customers how they think their dog feels about the greyest of the seasons; if they enjoy an excuse to laze about more or whether they are longing for the return of the sunshine. Based on our findings, we’ve compiled a list of hints and tips to help you tackle the cold, wet, winter walking weather we have all known to love/hate!
Make sure you and your dog can be seen
Doggy hi-vis gadgets like LED leads, harnesses and hi-vis collars are useful to 22% of our surveyed dog customers. These safety products could help you and your dog be seen by other pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. If you’re unsure what products to buy or want some inspiration, check out our dark night dog product reviews.
Walking in the dark might be worrying for many people, if you are unable to get out and about during the daylight hours try and stick to well-lit places or routes you know well. Perhaps consider walking with other dog walking friends or take a family member along to stretch their legs. No matter what time of day it is, it’s a good idea to carry a mobile phone on you just in case of emergencies and if you want a bit of extra reassurance, consider letting your friends and family know where you are, or maybe carry an attack deterrent alarm.
Carry a torch
The days tend to feel shorter and what light we do get, seems to fade rapidly. 11% of customers surveyed suggested they carry a torch when out and about on those dark winter walks. While our four-legged friends have great eyesight, a torch can help us humans see more clearly. A torch could help prevent any unnecessary slips on uneven ground, help you keep an eye on your pooch, make you slightly more visible to other people and can help you spot your dogs poo and pick it up without getting your fingers dirty. There are also plenty of LED headtorch hats available so you can remain hands free on the move.
Have a towel ready
Winter is the prime season for your dog to get wet and muddy, it’s a good idea to prepare some items before you leave the house ready for returning with your mucky pup. Some owners have suggested using an old washing up bowl with warm water to help clean the mud and grit from their dogs’ paws. Others suggest having a towel handy by the door to help clean up your mucky pups’ paws and under belly. 69% of surveyed customers have said that they will use an old household towel to help clean up their pup.
Make sure your dog is dry and warm
With energy bills on the rise and more and more people layering up in their homes, it is important to make sure your dog is warm and dry as they can be affected by the cold temperatures just like us. Dogs can also get winter colds* if precautions aren’t taken to help keep your doggo warm and dry. Unlike us humans they can’t remove their wet coats after a walk, they need a little help from their humans to clean up and warm up. As mentioned above, a towel is a great tool to have to remove excess water, but also creating a comfy space by a radiator, in a warm kitchen (if you are cooking), or in a cosy bed should do the trick.
Wrap up warm
40% of surveyed dog owners suggest that during winter months a good pair of waterproof shoes or boots and waterproof clothing could prove useful. This not only helps you stay warm and avoid catching a cold but helps you enjoy the walks just a little more.
Consider a dog coat
Not only you should wrap up, but a dog coat has been suggested as useful by 17% of surveyed customers. A good dog coat can not only keep water off your pooch’s fur, but it can also add an extra layer of warmth, and some have reflective lights built into the designs to help your dog be seen. There are a range of different dog coats available for dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Remember all dog breeds have different needs dependant on their fur coat. Greyhounds, toy dogs and shorter hair dog breeds are known to get colder quicker whereas Huskies and Malamutes can withstand more adverse weather.** If you are interested in finding a dog coat, check out our friends at Pets and Friends for a range of dog coat options.
Check your dog’s paws
The winter cold can affect your dog’s paws too! As part of your routine, you should take the time to check their paws after walks for any signs of injury or irritation. Careful attention should be made to remove any debris, gravel, thorns, grit, or salt in between the toes that could cause problems.
Make sure your dog goes out for a walk!
The miserable weather may affect your mood as well as your pets. You may hate the dark, rain or snow and your pet might even refuse to go out at times; however, going out for a walk has been proven to have multiple benefits for both you and your pet. It provides mental stimulation, can aid weight loss, increase muscle strength and is known to significantly help improve your mood. Not only this, but your dog also needs regular toilet breaks to help prevent health problems such as Urinary tract infections and incontinence later in life.***
Stay in a routine
Dogs are proven to benefit from a routine, going out for walks around the same time of day and having a plan when you get back home after a walk is a good idea. This helps your dog understand what you expect from them, whether that be a quick paw wash, being towel dried or sitting before being given a treat for good behaviour.
Sometimes however, life does get in the way and the weather can also play a factor in this. 49% of dog owners surveyed suggest their dog hates the rain too; 59% of all surveyed owners also suggested they still go out walking, but will shorten their time out and about due to the winter weather.
For more handy tips and advice check our dog advice page or if you would like to share your wintery snaps, get in touch with us on our social channels.
This article is based on responses from 134 Animal Friends dog customers who participated in our survey in November 2022.