Looking after your dog in the cold weather

13 Dec, 2022

Looking after your dog in the cold weather

Here are some tips for Guide & Assistance Dog Owners, Puppy Raisers and pet owners during cold weather!

  • Dogs usually love the snow and will enjoy playing in it. However, it is nearly impossible to maintain balance in icy conditions if you are visually impaired and your dog may be intimidated by you slipping. Don't feel you must take your dog out. Your dog doesn't have to get walked every day. Additionally, snow can conceal trip hazards like up kerbs etc. It is best to venture out during mid-day and early afternoon, as opposed to the early morning and late in the evening. Consider if your journey is necessary and can be avoided. If dogs are unable to get out for physical exercise, then mental exercise such as a stuffed kong or chew should be provided. Stuffed kongs can be used to feed meals out of so that your dog isn't getting excessive food on days they are not active. On days when your dog doesn't get out for walks, they should receive a reduced daily ration by about 10 percent.

  • Stick to non-icy paths with children who have an Assistance Dog as if they slip on the ice this could affect the trust between dog and child during future attachments.

  • Do not put dog coats on Assistance Dogs as children cannot get to the handle on the dog’s working coat through the winter jacket.

  • Take into consideration the breed of your dog; certain breeds may feel the cold more e.g. short coated dogs or single coated dogs like Jack Russell.

  • Old and young dogs, dogs with thin coats or those with an underlying medical condition can be more susceptible to cold weather. If you are heading out with your dog consider investing in a jacket for them. Pair it with yummy treats the first couple of times you introduce it, so your dog makes a positive connection with it.

  • Antifreeze is a common cold weather poison but not the only one to be aware of: road salt is used with greater frequency during this time of year, as is grit which can burn a dog’s feet. If your dog has long hair on their paws that is causing salt, grit or snow to stick to it then consider trimming this hair back slightly. Dogs may also lick their paws after a walk. Every time you come inside with your dog you should dry their feet thoroughly with a towel to be sure they have not tracked in any dangerous chemicals. They can be dipped in a basin of warm water to dissolve snow and wash off salt or grit once you get home. Also, check them over for any injuries to the paws: cracks, cuts, or scrapes. These kinds of injuries can cause pain and lameness. Use pet friendly de-icing products on steps, walkways, and driveways.

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