Winter Dog Walking Safety Tips

In Canada, the snow has been falling hard. The mercury has dropped well below any realm of warmth. Generally speaking, it’s too damn cold to step foot out the door. But were Canadians eh! We don’t stop walking the dogs when the cold sets in. But you may ask the question, how can I safely walk my dog? Is it too cold to walk the dog? Let’s dive into the details.

How cold is too cold to walk the dog?

As could be expected, there are many different aspects of your dog that will need to be assessed in order to keep them comfortable in cold weather. A few of which have been gone over in How Cold is Too Cold For Your Dog? Some factors include breed and size, health related issues like arthritis, weight, age, and coat type.

Generally animals with thick coats, or even dog breeds with double coats like husky’s will be fine in a wide range of cold temperatures. But if you’ve got a yappy little Chihuahua skipping around, then you have to keep a very keen eye on them to ensure they are safe. If your dog has arthritis, they will likely get sore with drops in temperature. 

Great! thanks for the information. How do i know it’s too cold for my dog? well, if your dog is whining, holding their paws in the air, or shivering then you should bring them back into a warm place so that they can get back up to a normal body temperature. On the other hand, if your furry friend is running around in the snow burring himself like truck, then you shouldn’t be overly concerned. 

What is The Link Between Cold Weather and Sickness?

Although the link between cold weather and sickness is still widely unknown. There are many theories that back this connection.

For instance, Viruses and pathogens are more prone to survive and therefore cause infection when the temperature is cold. Research has found that viruses such as the rhinovirus breed quicker when it’s cold out. With temperatures lower than 37 C and most infections were causes when the temperature was below 0 C. Certain viruses also tend to spread with ease at lower temperatures. For example, in a study with guinea pigs, the virus spread most efficiently at 5 C

Another connection between cold weather and sickness exists for Canadians and other countries with long periods of cold. During the winter months, we tend to stay indoors more often. in turn, this increases the time spent in close proximity to other people, including family, pets (dogs), co-workers or classmates. Effectively, the downside is that viruses, and pathogens can spread easier this way. 

What does this mean for my dog? 

Well, just like in humans, we should be weary of how long they are outside and make sure it’s not super cold out. They will likely be more prone to getting a cold if they are exposed to cold temperatures. 

How Does Cold Weather Affect the Immune System?

As you can imagine, Dogs and other furry pets can be very vulnerable to the affects of cold weather. Much like ours, their immune systems are impacted heavily when the cold weather strikes. This is due to many factors, including a lack of vitamin D from the sun, and cold temperatures impacting the bodies deployment of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. A suppressed immune system causes bacterial and other viral infections to be capable of causing sickness. 

What can you do to protect you dog from getting sick?

Clearly, you want to walk your dog whether it’s summer or winter. It’s an absolutely necessary routine to keep your furry friend in tip top shape. Although the last few points sounded ruff, you can most definitely do so safely by following some simple guidelines. 

→ Get your dog some boots! they may not like it at first, and if your dog is older they may not get used to it for quite some time. Ease them into it though and you will help to keep them warmer especially dogs who are very sensitive to cold on their paws. 

→ Buy a winter jacket! We would not recommend doing this for larger breeds, especially those with a winter coat, or double coat like Husky’s, Bernese Mountain dogs, Shiba Inu, and Akita’s. What is a double coated dogs?

→ Make sure your dog is not underweight, a thicker layer of fat is helpful for keeping body temperature higher. 

→ Supplements could be very beneficial to dogs who are deficient in vitamin D. Make sure to consult  a veterinarian prior to make this decision. 

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