You might not be the only one feeling the pain of post-holiday pounds. It’s not uncommon for your dog to gain a few extra pounds in the winter too. During these months, we eat tons of hearty, rich meals (and maybe your dog gets your leftovers), and we’re less active. But while five pounds here and there might not make a big difference to a human, it’s a lot of added weight to a dog.
During the frigid winter temperatures, it’s easy to be tempted to just let your dog out to do his business and come right back in. But like humans, dogs can get stir-crazy too. Pent up anxiety and boredom can be a destructive combo for some dogs, who may turn their energy into bad behavior like digging in the trash or chewing shoes. As the old saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog. Even a brisk 20-minute walk will do wonders to help burn off that energy.
Because cold weather can potentially be dangerous for your pup, it’s important to take precautions and plan ahead for your winter walks:
Consider your dog’s age and health first. Puppies and older dogs are much more sensitive to cold weather. If it’s especially cold outside, only take them out to potty and find an indoor activity to get them moving instead. If your dog has hip dysplasia or arthritis, avoid the cold altogether.
Avoid walking at the coldest times of day. If possible, stick to daylight hours. This will not only likely be warmer for you both, it will make you more visible to cars.
If your dog is up for it, dress him in a dog jacket and booties. Some dogs don’t really take to being dressed up, so if you throw a sweater on him and he immediately plays dead, don’t push it. Just make it a quicker walk.
Pay attention to body language. If your dog is shivering, licking their paws, or acting lethargic, it’s time to head home immediately.
When you get home, thoroughly wipe your dog’s paws and legs to remove and salt or ice melt chemicals. Remove any snowballs or ice from between the toes too. After your dog is home and all tuckered out, nothing is better than curling up in warm, cozy bed.