It can be a challenge staying motivated to exercise in winter, this is as true for us as it is for our pets. Shorter days and colder, wetter weather can make leaving your house seem like a chore.
Bought By Many pet insurance's social media manher Heidi Dyer shares her tips for getting out and about. Winter is coming, get your dog ready!
Our dogs rely on us to ensure they are well-exercised, and a walk is great mental stimulation. Dog walks are also beneficial to our own mental health so it is important to keep up your dog walks throughout the winter months.
With the current Covid restrictions, many of us are working from home, a great option for winter 2020/21 could be to do your main dog walk at lunchtime, it’s a way to break up the day and get time away from the screen.
While working from home it’s easy to feel like you spend your day tied to your desk, a stroll in the fresh air could make you feel more productive and focused in the afternoon.
If you are considering moving your dog’s walk to earlier in the evening, be sure it doesn’t clash with meal times. Ideally, dogs should have a two-hour window either side of doing any exercise to prevent bloat, this is particularly important in higher risk breeds (typically larger deeper-chested breeds).
Consider your route before you leave the house, is it well-lit or near roads? Do you or your dog require any safety accessories to ensure you can be well spotted? We've written a guide to useful dog accessories for low-light walks.
If walking your dog alone, you may wish to take a whistle and your mobile phone. Ensure you have a torch if walking somewhere dark, it can be hard to spot your dog's poo on dark winter evenings.
And if you’re anything like me and my dog, you might want to shine a torch on occasion to check they aren’t sniffing something unsavoury!
There are a few things to be observant of on winter walks. Rock salt is sometimes used on pavements and roads and it can cause sores on dogs' skin and an upset tummy if ingested. Even if small amounts are ingested it can lead to high blood sodium, which affects dogs' kidneys. Always wash their feet and legs if you see it on their fur. If you suspect they've ingested some, seek veterinary advice.
Remember, Bought By Many pet insurance customers have free video vet calls with FirstVet, 24/7. So if you're worried about something you can get expert advice at any time.
There are other toxins owners should be aware of. See our guide to mushroom poisoning in dogs.
It is advisable to stop dogs drinking from puddles or stagnant water all year round. But during the winter months, there is a higher risk in some areas, of antifreeze spilling into puddles. If a dog ingests antifreeze it can cause serious health problems and it isn’t always immediately obvious something is wrong. As with all toxins contact your vet. You can also use the animal poison line 01202 509000.
Our vet expert Dr Sophie Bell suggests warming your dog up before a walk by using some basic stretches. She says the colder weather can aggravate arthritis and lead to more soft tissue injury if the muscles are cold and the walk is long or vigorous.
Dr Bell also says that November to May and June to October are the times we typically see cases of Alabama Rot. Although the number of deaths due to this condition is low, it is still important to be aware of it and to check your dog regularly.
The condition can cause small non-healing five pence-size skin lesions mainly found on the extremities, abdomen, and muzzle. They are slow-healing wounds that may increase in size and start to look ulcerated. The condition can lead to kidney failure, which is why it is important to get any small suspicious skin wounds, where you have not witnessed any trauma, investigated.