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. Not only magical but essential - your dog needs regular exercise, no matter the weather conditions. However, not all breeds enjoy cold climates. While some live for the wintertime, other breeds are much happier in a snug dog-jacket.
Wolfie and Max, latest winners of a Vitalin sponsorship deal (find them on Instagram @wolfie_and_max) love enjoying the outdoors – whether running on a big, cold, empty beach or through a wintry field, these boys are always prepared to enjoy some family time outside, no matter what the weather may be.
Here are Wolfie and Max’s top tips for being prepared for, and making the most of, the winter months….
1. Be seen
With daylight hours shortening, be sure that both your dog and you stay visible. Just as you would wear reflective clothing, you should consider the need to light up your dog. From flashing collars to reflective jackets and glowing leads, there are plenty of products available to help keep your four-legged friend visible.
Here are some pics of us in our reflective harnesses – they help us get seen and make us feel safe….
It might even be worth buying some flashing balls, so you won't have to spend hours scrabbling around in the dark, trying to locate one sad, green, but much-loved tennis ball.
2. Be prepared
We love our walks on the beach, but our favourite place is the woods. There’s nothing better than going off, exploring all those fabulous smells. We don’t care if it’s raining and there’s puddles. Well, until we start to feel really cold.
Always make sure you carry a towel or blanket on you if you intend to go out on a long wintry walk, particularly if it has been raining. It’s probably worth keeping a fresh one in the car or handy in the entrance to your house too, so you can be sure your dog is fully dried after an adventure. Staying damp can leave dogs feeling uncomfortable, it can irritate their skin and it will result in them feeling really cold on an already cold day.
It’s also good to have appropriate warm bedding waiting for your dog to rest in after a long, winters walk. Again, this may be in the boot of your car or waiting for them in the home.
Here we are sleeping off a woodland adventure, snuggled on our comfy bed…
3. Stay close
If it’s fairly dark, it’s also important that you don't let your dog off their lead unless in an enclosed space. When you do let your dog loose, only do so if your dog is excellent with recall. The last thing you want is to lose your dog in the darkness of a bitterly cold night. If you've practiced recall and you’re confident that your pet will come back when called, off-lead 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.
Always keep some treats to hand to entice your dog back to you. Obviously, we recommend Vitalin’s fresh chicken Luxury Dog Treats.
Here’s Wolfie enjoying some off-lead time in the woods – we’re both very good at coming back to mum.
4. Stay safe
It is also important to remember that along with the 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 careful 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.
Lastly, if your dog starts lifting their feet in obvious discomfort, check between the toes for ice balls too. Road grit and salt can also be irritating to your dog's footpads - wash his feet after each walk to remove any harmful substances.
Here we are, practicing safety on one of our beach walks.
In a Nutshell
Winter can be a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your dog. Make sure you are prepared, keep your dog visible and warm, check for hazards at all times but most importantly, enjoy getting some fresh air and a bit of exercise with your four-legged best friend. Time outside for all of the family is so important for everyone’s health, both physically and mentally, so wrap up warm and enjoy some wintry adventures.