January is national Walk Your Pet Month. I know, cruel isn’t it? Why January instead of say May, June even October?? With a little planning, though, January in Guelph can be just as enjoyable a time of year to walk your dog as any other month. There are a couple of important things to consider when planning a walk in the middle of the winter – the cold, the ice, the salt and the lighting.
Oooooo it’s COLD out there! But, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the fresh air. I am sure I do not need to tell you how to dress yourself, but I may surprise you by telling you to dress your pooch as well. Dog breeds that are meant to work in colder climates generally can tolerate a 30 minute walk in January, think Husky or Malamute; however, most short haired breeds will require an extra layer. Dogs that are close to the ground will also appreciate a coat as they are more likely to get damp from the snow touching their belly.
Sidewalks can get pretty treacherous in the winter and to combat this people tend to use a lot of salt. Both ice and salt can prove hazardous in the winter. Like most winter hazards, a little planning will help you stay safe on your January walk. Various types of shoe grips exist that can be easily attached to the bottom of your boots to prevent you from slipping while walking Fido. Most dogs can get fairly good purchase on the sidewalk or they walk on the grass/snow so they do not require extra footing. What will cause grief to our four legged friends is the salt. Road salt and sidewalk salt are extremely irritating to the tender tissue between the pads of our dogs’ feet. To protect your pet from irritating salt outfit them with a set of winter booties. You can also encourage those in your neighbourhood to use a pet friendly salt product.
The final hazard to consider is the lighting, or lack thereof. The days are quite short during the winter and most of us pet owners are not out for our walk until we return from work. By the time we head out the door there is often no daylight to be seen. It is very important to make sure that both you and your dog are visible. Purchase collars with reflective strips or LED lights. When choosing a coat for your dog, choose one with reflective strips. For yourself consider a lighter coloured jacket that will be easily visible to drivers or reflective arm bands that can be worn over your jacket.
So now that you are all prepared, get out there and enjoy the winter wonderland! I know I will be!
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Thanks to Dr. Cirinna for this blog post - and it's true, she and her dogs are out walking every day, even in these January cold snaps!
** also posted at Woodlawn Veterinary Hospital blog **