Winter is here! Nature’s way of telling us to stock up on blankets, hot chocolate, and warm socks, and to get cozy and stay indoors. Even with the couch and Christmas movies calling our names, our pets still need exercise and activity. The winter months are ideal for outdoor activities, the temperatures are low enough that we can enjoy the outdoors without near immediate heatstroke, and are perfect for including leisurely walks with your furry companions during the day. While the Lone Star State may not experience extreme cold compared to other regions, there are still certain considerations to keep in mind when taking your dogs out for a walk during this season.
Dressing for the Occasion :
Although Texas winters are mild compared to other parts of the country, some dogs may need an extra layer to keep them warm. Breeds with shorter fur or smaller breeds might benefit from a cozy dog sweater or jacket, while other breeds relish in the cold temperatures. However, it's essential to gauge your dog's comfort level; some of our pets happily sport a winter outfit with delight, but others might find it uncomfortable and stress inducing. Observing their behavior after getting them bundled up, and during your walk will give you cues to help determine their comfort level.
Hydration Matters :
Even in cooler weather, staying hydrated is essential. Always bring water for both yourself and your furry companion during walks. Dogs can get dehydrated, especially if they're active or excited during the outing. Amazon has some really great options for providing water on the go to your pet.
Paw Protection :
Protecting your dog's paws is crucial during winter walks. While Texas doesn't experience heavy snowfall, we do get the occasional ice storm, and colder temperatures can lead to icy patches or chilly pavement that might irritate your dog's paws. Consider using dog booties or paw wax to shield their paws from cold surfaces and potential irritants like salt or de-icing chemicals used on sidewalks. Booties with velcro stay on best, but if your pet won’t tolerate booties, “Musher’s Secret” is a great product to help soothe and protect your dog’s paws. Also using pet friendly de-icing agents on your pathways and driveways are a great alternative to chemical based products, and much better than a daily game of “will I bust or balance”.
Safety First :
Shorter daylight hours during winter mean more walks might happen in dim or dark conditions. Always utilize reflective gear or attach reflective accessories to your dog's leash and collar to ensure visibility and safety, particularly if you're walking near roads or in areas with limited lighting. And always be aware of your surroundings.
Tailoring the Walk :
Adapt your walking routine to accommodate the weather. Shorter, more frequent walks might be preferable on colder days, keeping in mind your dog's comfort and health. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, engaging in indoor activities like indoor play or training sessions can provide exercise and mental stimulation. If outdoor walks are not an option, scent games, treat puzzles, and frozen kongs are a great way to give your dog the activity they need. An exercised mind can be just as effective at tuckering your dog out as a walk, when regular walks are not an option.
Final Thoughts :
Winter walks in Texas offer a fantastic opportunity to explore the outdoors with your furry companions, and get in movement and activity that will benefit both you and your dog. By considering comfort, safety, and adjusting routines accordingly, you can ensure that these walks become enjoyable experiences for both you and your dog. So, grab those leashes, pause that Christmas movie, put on your cozy clothes, and step out to relish the beautiful Texas winter with your four-legged friends!