Winter tips for dog owners

Winter can be a magical time for the whole family, your dog included. There's nothing like a walk to the park together, on a crisp frosty morning, when everything glitters, silver and jewelled in the sunlight.

However, along with this chilly weather comes a myriad of hazards for your furry friend. For example; when the mercury drops, be mindful of leaving your dog outside too long, for those who spend most of the time indoors, hypothermia and frostbite are a real threat.

Also, be heedful of frozen lakes - It's impossible to ascertain the stability of the surface. The temptation to jump in may prove too much for your pet. 

Here are some tips for a warm, safe and happy dog through the winter months;

Rug up for walks

Your dog needs regular exercise, no matter the weather conditions. However, not all breeds enjoy cold climates. While Alsatians, huskies and Malamutes live for the wintertime, breeds such as greyhounds and Staffies will be much happier in a snug dog-jacket.

Doggie-booties are also available for sensitive paws. If your dog starts lifting their feet in obvious discomfort, check between the toes for ice balls. Also, road grit and salt can be irritating to your dog's footpads - wash his feet after each walk to remove any harmful substances.

Get reflective

As the nights draw in and the days shorten, you'll often find yourself walking home in the dark. Ensure that you are wearing something bright, so you are visible to oncoming cars. Walk with a friend where possible, and don't let your dog off their lead unless in an enclosed space.

Many products are available to light up your dog too. From flashing collars to reflective jackets, to glowing leads and even flashing balls - so you won't have to spend hours scrabbling around in the bushes, trying to locate it.

Practice recall

The last thing you want is to lose your dog in the darkness of a bitterly cold night. If you've practiced recall through the lighter months and feel confident that your pet will come back when called, off-leash fun should be ok, day or night. However, for those who tend to galivant off on a wild-sniff-chase, keeping them safely on a lead through the winter may be a safer option.