Dogs: Staying safe on winter walkies

Wet and windy winter weather might not be very appealing for us but it probably won’t stop your dog from wanting to get out and about.

Be seen and not hurt

As those long winter nights draw in, are you and your dog staying safe on your walks? We’d recommend walking your dog while it’s light but we know that’s not always possible in winter. If you do need to walk your dog in the dark, it’s really important to make sure you’re safe and can be seen by other road users. Here’s our tips:

  • Buy a reflective coat or collar for your dog. There’s a huge range of dog jackets and reflective or flashing collars on sale. They help make your dog easier to spot in the dark.
  • Wear reflective clothes. It’s not just your dog who needs to be seen at night. Make sure you’re safe, too, by wearing a jacket with reflective stripes or patches, especially if you’ll be walking close to roads.
  • Keep your dog on the lead. We’d only recommend letting your dog off the lead if they’re in a really secure area where you know they can’t get into danger or become a hazard to other people.

Staying warm and dry

Winter walks can leave you both feeling cold and bedraggled. It’s a good idea to get warm and dry as soon as you can when you get home. Here’s how you can help your dog:

  • Think about getting a winter coat for your dog, especially for older dogs or ones with thin, fine fur. Read more below about how to find a coat to fit your dog.
  • Dry your dog with a towel after snowy or rainy walks.
  • Stop clumps of snow forming on your dog’s paws by trimming the hair between their toes. You could also get them some doggy boots to wear on really cold days if they really suffer with this problem.

Fashion hound: fitting a dog coat

If your dog isn’t a fan of the cold or if they have thin fur, a dog coat can help keep them warm and happy during winter. There’s a lot of choice out there so take a look and try to find a coat that will suit your dog’s needs. You can check the size and fit of the coat by:

  • Size them up. Measure your dog to make sure the coat you buy will fit them well. Measure them around their neck, around the widest part of their chest, and from collar to tail. Knowing your dog’s size and weight will also help you choose the best coat.
  • Be practical. Choose a coat that’s windproof, waterproof, and easily washable. You can also get reflective coats that will help keep your dog safe in the dark.
  • Think about the cover they’ll need. Does your dog tend to get a wet tummy? Choose a coat that covers their belly as well as their back. Short-legged breeds will thank you for the extra protection on wet or frozen paths but bigger dogs will also enjoy the extra warmth in snowy weather.
  • Get your dog to model their new coat. You’ll be able to tell if it fits them and they’ll let you know of any problems. If they scratch or bite at the coat, it’s a sign they aren’t comfortable and you’ll need to try another one.
  • Check your dog can move freely. The coat shouldn’t rub their neck or around their legs, or get in the way when they go to the toilet.

Does your dog’s coat tick all these boxes? Congratulations – your dog will be warm and dry this winter!

Hypothermia: What to do if your dog gets too cold

If temperatures drop, your dog could be at risk from getting too cold and suffering from a condition called hypothermia. This is a really dangerous condition and can cause your dog’s body to shut down. The best way to protect your pooch is to keep them warm on walks and limit the amount of time they spend outside in really cold weather. Read more about the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and what to do if you’re worried about your dog.

Winter Pet Advice

Stay safe on winter walks with your dog and bring small pets in from the cold – our vet’s tips for giving your pets a happy and healthy winter.

Pet care in Winter

How much exercise does your dog need?

Exercise is important for every dog but the amount your dog needs depends on their age, breed and health.

Read more

Keeping your dogs weight in check

Are you worried about your dog’s weight? Read our tips to help them get back into shape.

Keep your dog healthy