Winter Pet Safety: Dos and Don’ts When Walking Your Dog


Winter walks with your dog require a few precautions to ensure your pet’s safety. We have the dos and don’ts to help you keep your dog safe all season long.


Dress your pet for the weather

Dog can suffer the effects of cold winter weather too. Be sure your pet is dressed for the elements when you go outside for a winter walk. A cosy warm sweater or even a winter dog coat will keep your pet warm as the snow falls and wind blows. Look for styles that DO NOT impede movement and are NOT too tight around the neck.

Keep it short

Exposure to cold temperatures can put your pet at risk of frostbite, hypothermia, pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Reduce the risks by keeping dog walks short during the winter months. Head outdoors long enough for your dog to do his/her “business” and then come back inside.

Protect your dog’s paws

Road salt and de-icing products can cause painful irritation on your pet’s paws, as well as dry and/or cracked paw pads, and even burns—resulting in pain and impaired mobility. Paw wax or winter booties can protect your pet’s paws from ice and salt burns.

Any time your dog has walked outdoors on salty roads without having protection of paw wax or winter boots, it is important to thoroughly wash your pet’s paws and to check for irritations and burns.

Keep dogs on a leash

Keep your pet securely on a leash to avoid him/her becoming lost and consequently exposed to cold weather conditions for too long. Be sure your pet is wearing a collar having identification, including how you can be reached, and always keep your pet’s microchip information up to date.


Do not let your dog lick salt/road salt

DO NOT let your dog lick salt off his/her paws. Road salt, unlike table salt, contains many harmful chemicals. These chemicals can be ingested when pets lick their fur, causing pain and inflammation to the mouth and the entire digestive tract. Over consumption can lead to a number of degenerative diseases and toxicity/poisoning. Salt poisoning in pets can be extremely dangerous, causing kidney damage, convulsions, seizures, neurological damage, coma, and even death.

NEVER leave your dog in the backyard

Exposure to cold weather conditions can put your pet’s health and well-being in peril. Pets are susceptible to respiratory infections, which can lead to bacterial pneumonia—inflammation of the lungs, or fluid in the lungs and airways impairing breathing. Exposure to the cold elements also puts your pet at risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia constitutes a medical emergency whereby the body loses heat at a rate faster than it can be produced. Both pneumonia and hypothermia can be fatal if medical intervention is not sought in time.

Don’t go near the ice or bodies of water

Avoid walking on or near frozen bodies of water and NEVER let your pet run into or swim in rivers or lakes during cold winter months, or when currents are moving fast. Pets are at risk falling through ice and rough currents can pull one under, sweeping your pet up into moving water. Your pet can be dragged under the ice by a fast moving current, or trapped under ice with no way of coming up for air. The dangers are life-threatening. In addition to the risks of drowning, your pet is at much greater risk of developing hypothermia, as heat leaves the body at a faster rate when immersed in frigid water. Untreated hypothermia can lead to heart failure and/or a coma, or even fatalities.

Don’t walk your dog during the coldest times of the day

Early morning and late evening are often the coldest times of the day. Whenever possible, schedule winter walks when the sun may be the brightest and warmest. This will help to avoid exposing your pet to the most extreme cold temperatures.

Following these simple precautions can go a long way in keeping your dog safe when walking outdoors during winter.


We recommend you also read:

Winter Pet Hazards: Keeping Safe When It’s Cold Outside

Winter Pet Care: The Season’s Top 10 Health Concerns

Winter Pet Safety: What You Need to Know About Hypothermia


We do not intend this to be a substitute for medical advice.


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