• By Beth Oleson, Marketing Director

Walking in a winter wonderland

Winter weather doesn’t typically come down hard on Kentucky until January and February, but that doesn’t mean we’re not getting our fair share of cold air right now, with some snowflakes thrown in for good measure! Early sunsets and frigid nights leave many dog owners dreading the evening walk, and if your dog is anything like mine, they might not be looking forward to it either. But it’s still an important and necessary exercise and potty break – so here are some tips for keeping those winter walks safe and healthy.

Temperatures in the teens are no fun even in thick socks and boots but think of how it feels on a dog’s toes. Snow and ice can become packed between toes during a walk, so be sure to check your pup’s feet when you come back inside. The best thing to do is wipe all four paws down with a warm, damp cloth, and not just because of snow; de-icers, road salt, and anti-freeze are all highly toxic for pets, and if your dog licks the residue off his feet once he’s indoors, he could be in serious trouble. If your dog wants (and will walk in) boots of his own, you can find waterproof dog booties at most pet supply stores. These help with grip as well, for days when the sidewalk is icy.

Short-haired breeds, smaller dogs, and senior dogs may get cold very quickly during the course of a walk. If you know your dog is sensitive to the cold, or notice him shivering a lot when he’s outside, it may be a good idea to purchase a sweater or coat for him. It won’t make him immune to the cold, but he’ll definitely be a little more comfortable. Plus, it’ll look super stylish with his boots.

Darkness can be dangerous all on its own, even if there’s not ice on the ground. Always carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp, for your sake and your dog’s, and be aware of the terrain; you don’t want to end up stranded in the cold with a twisted ankle, or end up carrying your dog all the way home because he accidentally steps in a hole. It’s always important to keep your dog on a leash at all times, but it’s doubly important in the dark, and it’s a good idea to have a reflective collar and leash so that any passing cars can see not only you, but your canine companion as well.

With all of this in mind, we hope you all have a safe and happy winter! If you have any other questions about winter hazards or pet care in general, feel free to contact us at 859-873-5491 or by email atmanager@woodfordhumane.org. Happy walking!

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