Here in the UK, we often seem to be completely unprepared for the onset of the winter snow, despite the fact that it reliably falls and settles across large parts of the UK year after year! While a good fall of snow can play havoc with the road systems, serve to keep people away from their workplaces and push the winter heating bills up, most of us can’t help but enjoy a secret or not-so-secret smile at the sight of a flurry of snow falling from the sky.Whatever your age, many of us enjoy playing in the snow, walking through a fresh snowfall on a cold morning, and joining in with games of making snowmen and throwing snowballs about! As with anything else that makes their owners happy and provides a potential source of play, many dogs will delight in joining in with your games and can provide lots of entertainment and amusement for their owners as a part of it! There’s no reason why your dog should not be allowed to enjoy the snow with you, providing that you take good care of them and pay a little extra attention to their needs during this relatively rare weather phenomenon that often, only stays around for a few days a year.Is it snowing in your area? Keen to get out there with your dog and enjoy it? Read on for our top tips on having fun and staying safe in the show with your dog.
While many dogs enjoy the snow, some dogs have an extreme aversion to the cold and wet and will be keen to avoid going out in the snow as much as possible. If your dog is genuinely not keen to go out in the snow and doesn’t enjoy being outside for prolonged periods of time in this weather, don’t push them. It won’t make them happy, and will only serve to strengthen their dislike for inclement weather.
If your dog is on the slender side, has a thin coat or is otherwise apt to feel the cold, it is especially important to make sure that they can maintain their body temperature at a comfortable level when playing in the snow. Often, the vigorous activity and play that your dog will enjoy jumping through flurries and joining in with your games will take care of this, but make sure that they don’t get worn out and then begin to chill when they take a break while you are still playing. If your dog normally wears a warm coat when outdoors in the cold weather, make sure that it is weatherproof and waterproof. A dog coat that is wet with snow lying next to your dog’s skin will serve to cool them down, rather than warm them up.
Snow can compact between the pads of the paws, forming lumps of ice that can lead to chilblains and ice burns if left to build up. Similarly, dogs with very hairy legs and stomachs will be prone to picking up chunks of snow that build up and become icy on the longer hair of their legs and other areas that are close to the ground.Spreading a barrier cream or Vaseline between the pads of the paws can help to stop them holding on to snow and ice, and increase your dog’s comfort. You can even buy special dog booties to guard against this in bad weather!When you come back inside with your dog, check their paws carefully for any injuries from objects hidden under the surface of the snow, and remove any ice and dry them off.
It is also important to dry off the rest of your dog’s coat, and make sure that they are not left wet and icy when they come back into the house. Either rough-dry them and leave them somewhere warm, or dry them thoroughly with towels and a hairdryer!
If snow has fallen after freezing weather, there may be a layer of ice underneath the snow that can provide an additional hazard to both your dog and yourself. Take care when running about with your dog on snow and be mindful of what the surface underneath is made of. If you are with your dog in an open area that you are not familiar with, make sure you talk to some local people or find out about the area first to make sure that there are no hazards like ponds that may be invisible to the eye having become iced over and then covered in snow afterwards.
Keep an eye out for other hazards, such as objects buried under the snow and unsuitable surfaces for walking on. Snow is good at disguising a range of hazards, both at floor level and higher up, so take care.
Keep your dog in sight of you at all times when out in the snow, and remember a white or light coloured dog that normally stands out against any background will suddenly find themselves with the perfect camouflage to hide behind! It is important to know where your dog is in relation to yourself when out in a snow flurry or thick snow, as it is easy to become disoriented if snow is falling and your dog gets lost or goes off in the wrong direction.Similarly, take care of yourself too- let someone know where you are planning on going, take a phone with you, and remember that snow can make it more difficult than normal to get about. Wear sensible boots or shoes, dress warmly, and don’t go further than you meant to and find yourself in difficulty getting back. Remember, you can’t take good care of your dog if you are not ok yourself!Have fun in the snow, but don’t let your dog get overtired, cold or dehydrated. Don’t encourage your dog to eat the snow, and keep fresh water on hand in case they need a drink. Have a good time, and stay safe!