Winter Walks: Keeping it Real and Safe

January 27, 2014

Having a Pit Bull (Or any other shorthaired breeds for that matter) and living through Minnesota winters can be a challenge. A short coat with virtually no hair on the underside makes for a cold dog in no time. Shivering is an obvious sign that a dog is cold, but what are some other signs to observe to determine if your dog is chilled and needs to get to a warmer temperature?

  • Dogs will appear to have a haunched over look; shoulders braced and rear end tucked under.
  • They will hold their paws up individually in the air, alternating between them.
  • Often times dogs will hold their tail close to their body or tuck it to conserve body heat.
  • They may slow their pace on walks and runs.
  • When given the opportunity, dogs may seek wind barriers; traveling close to buildings, cars, or trees
  • They will also likely have their mouth closed, again to conserve body heat.

For dogs with longer coats, it’s not always easy to tell if they are shivering so people need to watch for other signs, and also keep an eye out for snow and ice building up between the dog’s toe pads and/or clumping in their fur.

Walking dogs on city sidewalks and streets during the winter can be harmful for dogs’ feet. Places like Minnesota are well salted during the icy, snowy months and the salt can be very irritating for many dogs.

Safety tips for keeping your dog warm and healthy:

  • Use dog boots when walking in salted areas, and/or with dogs with long hair to prevent snow and ice build up on their paws. Or use a musher’s wax to create a protective barrier on your dog’s paw pads.
  • Outfit your dog with a coat or jacket; preferably one that is water-resistant or waterproof.
  • Keep your dog well hydrated during longer outings.
  • Find trails that are packed down or groomed so your dogs aren’t over exerting themselves in deep snow.
  • Always watch for subtle behavior or body language changes that will tell you your dog is getting chilled.

Emma loves running and playing in the snow, but I’m always diligent to watch for changes, since she can get cold quickly. Her knee surgery scars are prone to frostbite, since she has no hair protecting the scar tissue. These are the reasons she wears a full body windbreaker, an insulated coat over top and boots. By taking these measures, she is able to go on longer hikes and romp with her German Shepherd brother who wears none of these items!

Happy trails and stay warm.butt

 

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