Rain or shine, cold or hot, snow or sun, if you own a dog, it doesn’t matter what the weather does. You are still going to have to take your canine buddy outside for potty duty. Colder temperatures present challenges that you don’t have in summer, for both you and your beloved furbaby. Fleece face masks are one way to protect your skin when you’re letting your dog take care of business and getting in some exercise.
Take Care of Yourself on Winter Dog Walks
Winter dog walks can help you get your daily exercise, keeping you fit all year round. Winter walks can be exhilarating, giving you a way to get out of your routine and step away from your devices. You need the right gear to stay warm and prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
Start by layering clothing. Underlayers should be moisture-wicking to prevent your skin from getting clammy and cold. Outer layers need to be wind- and water-proof to protect you from the elements. It may seem like four layers of clothing would be bulky, but you can find winterwear that is thin and athletic while still having the ability to insulate your body.
Good footwear is a must in the winter. Not only do you need to keep your feet and toes warm and dry, you want a good shoe that won’t let you slip and fall. Look for trail running shoes or a light hiking boot, depending on the type of weather where you walk your dog. You want good support for your feet and ankles if you’re walking a long distance. Wool socks are great for warmth, but make sure your socks don’t crowd your toes in your shoes.
You can lose a lot of heat through your head and exposed skin. Get a good hat that covers your ears and keeps your hair dry.
In extreme winter weather, face masks can truly make all the difference between staying warm and frostbitten cheeks. A warm fleece-lined mask will not only provide warmth and protection from the wind, cold and frost, but it will also spare your skin from any unwanted UV rays. Microfiber and fleece face masks offer much more protection than a scarf. Although UV rays aren’t as strong in the winter, you can still be exposed, increasing your risk of skin cancer.
Don’t forget to include gloves that keep your hands warm while letting you have the ability to control the leash. Mittens are more effective for keeping fingers warm, but you may lose the ability to perform some tasks. On extremely cold days, you may want to use a handwarmer packet to keep your fingers warm. Keep in mind that if you’re uncomfortable, your dog may be as well, even though Fido may have a full coat.
Taking Care of Dogs on Winter Walks
Senior dogs and puppies can be more susceptible to the cold. Short-haired breeds can also get cold very quickly. Use a sweater or winter coat to keep your dog warm. Take shorter walks, maybe more frequently. To protect a dog’s paws from deicing chemicals and salt, use rubber booties or a protective wax-based cream. Don’t let dogs lick the ground on your walk. Antifreeze tastes sweet, but it is toxic. Watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia in dogs:
- Anxious behaviours
- Slowing down while walking
Dogs still need exercise in the winter, so if you can’t get your full walk in, find other ways to keep your buddy moving. You could run up and down the stairs. Playing fetch inside can be very stimulating for your dog. Find the longest hallway where you can toss a soft toy. If your pooch isn’t ready for fetch, play soccer. Find a doggie indoor park or doggie daycare to let your pup run off excess energy. Get creative to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Both you and your buddy need to stay hydrated for your walk. Carry a water bottle on longer walks because you can become dehydrated very quickly in the cold.
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