Now that you’ve pulled your scarves and gloves out of the closet and blown the dust off your snow boots, it’s a little easier to admit it: winter is here, if not officially, then definitely in spirit. For the next four months, you and your dog will need to make adjustments to your outdoor routine in order to stay active and healthy. Here are a few tips to keep the whole family safe when out walking this season.
Protect those pads. It’s not just the cold you need to protect your pet’s perfect paws from, although that’s certainly important. The sidewalks and driveways you walk on may have been treated with salt or chemicals, which can damage your dog’s feet. Water-resistant booties are an affordable solution available at any pet store. Getting them home is easy; getting them on your pet isn’t always quite so simple. You will both likely require some patience getting used to them, but they are a great way to keep those paws clean. (If your dog flat out refuses to wear them, you can use a paw wax so they have at least some protection from the elements). As a bonus, they provide a little extra traction for your dog, which is a good thing because...
Ice hides everywhere. Sometimes it’s easy to tell when they’re ice ahead and you can avoid it or step extra carefully. But ice isn’t always clearly visible, even when it isn’t covered in snow, so if you’re uncertain, walk on the grass beside the road or sidewalk. Invest in a good pair of over-shoe cleats for yourself to prepare for harmful surfaces. Protecting yourself from a fall is just as important as protecting your dog when the goal is getting outdoor exercise and getting home safe!
Be mindful of the time. For some of us, the worst part of winter is that it means the sun goes down before we’re ready for it. After a long day of working, we want to reward ourselves and our faithful pets with a nice long walk, but it’s important to be aware of when it will become dark before you set off on an adventure. If you’re going out after dark, stick to well-lighted areas and wear reflective clothing. You may also purchase a reflective harness for your dog so that any oncoming traffic can see him as well as you. Carry a flashlight and consider buying clip-on leash lights for your dog to help keep both of you aware of what’s ahead and keep from getting lost. And remember, when the sun goes down, it tends to get colder, so keep those after-dark treks fairly short.