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Walking Your Dog in the Winter Time

Author: Freelance writer Lucy Wyndham

It’s official! Despite the fact that Seattle is hardly one of the coldest cities in the U.S., the weather forecast has warned of snow and frigid weather in late December in our sleepless city. If you are a new dog owner and are worried about how the cold will affect your pooch, fear not; average lows of 35 degrees in the coldest months mean that he can still enjoy a daily walk play in your garden, provided you take a few precautions. Your dog needs exercise in the winter as it does in the summer, and too much time at home can lead to undesirable behavior, such as chewing furniture and shoes, or increased anxiety. Follow these tips to ensure that winter is truly a wonderland for your pooch.

What are the Biggest Risks for Dogs in the Winter Time?

You dog will love prancing and jumping into mounds of snow, but when you are walking outside, use a relatively short leash. Mounds of snow can cover hidden gaps and crevices in the ground, which can lead to injury if your dog jumps or falls in. Snow and ice also have the habit of forming little hard balls that get stuck between your dog’s toes, potentially causing wounds and frostbite. Consider purchasing winter wear for your dog, including a coat or vest, and snow boots. Your dog may look a little awkward in his new swag at first, but he will soon be strutting his stuff outside like a seasoned catwalk model. Another good idea is to clip the fur around your his paws short, since long fur can entrap ice and snow. Be particularly careful with older dogs or those with short coats, but allow thick furred dogs such as huskies, to roam free with their natural, PETA-friendly fur.

Make Sure Your Garden is Dog Friendly

Your dog will love romping around the garden for a few minutes every day, so make sure to avoid poisoning. Poinsettia plants are mildly toxic, as are holiday bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe. Rakes and other sharp tools hidden beneath the snow also have the potential to injure your dog. If you have a sophisticated landscaping setup, you might have a water fountain. Keep your fountain spick and span by ensuring water contains no algae or other debris your dog might ingest; feed him a bowl of fresh, clean water when you get home from your walk, since he will probably be thirsty after expending all that energy.

Beware of Antifreeze

There are certain toxins to watch out for in the winter as well. Anti-freeze is somehow sweet and taste and is therefore a powerful dog magnet – yet it is highly toxic and can result in stomach upset or even death.

Exercise is vital for your dog, all year round. To avoid typical winter health risks, purchase winter wear for your dog, protect their paws, and avoid common toxins in the garden and on the pavement. If it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s probably too cold for your dog. On really icy days, just a few minutes outside will probably be more than enough for Fido.

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