January is National Walk Your Dog Month. Here in Connecticut, this celebration coincides with some cold, snowy weather! The elements don’t have to slow you down, however, and we have some ideas to keep your dog comfortable. The following Connecticut winter dog walking tips will keep you and your pup moving all winter long!
Watch Their Body Language
As different breeds of dogs were bred for different jobs and environments, their cold tolerance varies greatly. A husky, for example, can withstand much colder temperatures than a chihuahua. A husky was bred to work in cold climates while your chihuahua was bred to snuggle up with you on the couch! Knowing your dog’s breed (or suspected mix) will give you a baseline of their tolerance for the cold.
Beyond their genetic baseline, each dog is unique so it’s vital that you monitor their behavior in cold weather. Signs they are ready to get back in the house include shivering, picking up their paws and whining. Taking these cues seriously and get them inside.
Consider a Jacket
If your dog is a smaller breed, a senior or has a thin coat, you may want to consider investing in a jacket. Dog sweaters and jackets come in endless colors and varieties, ranging from cute decorative sweaters to waterproof jackets similar to blankets put on horses (our favorite type!). What works best for you and your dog will depend on your preferences, their size and what they are willing to tolerate.
Protect Those Paws
The winter brings about unique challenges for your dog’s paws. Snow and ice can be rough on their pads. Salts and other chemicals can be irritants. Be sure to pay ample attention to paw care before and after each and every walk.
You may consider boots for your pup if they will tolerate it. Boots protect their pads from drying out, provide additional traction, prevent paws from getting hurt on ice and protects them from unsafe ice melts. There are many different types of styles of boots so you can try to find the best fit for your dog.
If your pet isn’t a fan of boots, a paw wax can help provide some of the same benefits. Paw wax is rubbed directly onto your dog’s paw pads, acting as a barrier to protect them from ice and salt. Our wax of choice is Musher’s Secret.
Keep Toe Hair Short
Depending on your pup’s breed and coat type, he may have long hairs between his toes. Keeping this trimmed can help prevent ice buildup during a walk. Walking with a ball of ice between your toes wouldn’t be comfortable for us and certainly won’t be appreciated by your pup!
Wipe Paws After Each Walk
If you’re not using booties on your pup, it’s important to wipe down his paws after each outing. The salts, sand and other melts used on public roads and sidewalks are not safe to ingest. A gentle wipe down with a warm, wet washcloth will do the trick.
If you choose to use paw wax on your dog’s paws be sure to wipe it off before going inside, too! Sand and salt can stick to the wax and get trekked through the house.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to use pet-friendly ice melts on your own property to further reduce your pup’s risk of ingestion.
Opt for Shorter, More Frequent Walks
Keeping walks shorter than usual will lower your pup’s exposure to the cold weather. While this sounds counter intuitive as exercise is so crucial to your dog’s wellness, you can make up the shortened length with more frequent walks. This keeps you both out of the bitter cold for elongated periods of time and creates more opportunity to break up your pup’s day with movement!
What Connecticut Winter Dog Walking Tips Do You Have?
Did we miss something? Do you have a trick that makes winter walks a breeze in your household? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
The tips above are just a handful of ways you can use to keep your dog healthy and happy this season. Each dog is an individual with their own quirks, preferences and personalities so find what works best for your dog specifically. Your groomer and veterinarian can be great resources to discover the best options for your pup, too.