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Lockdown Dogs & Winter Walks

Since 23 March 2020 the UK suddenly became slightly more flexible, many with a little more time on their hands and space in their life for a K9 companion.

Dogs have been a great comfort to so many people, breaking up the monotony of lockdown and being a source of companionship, love and exercise.

With many dogs being introduced to work colleagues and quiz nights via video conference - puppy fever has caught on. The sale of puppies is going through the roof. Demand far outweighing supply, costs sky rocketing and fears substantiated regarding puppy farms and growing numbers of dog theft.

I hope that all dogs have found their forever home, however I fear that as things start to return to a degree of normalcy there were be a fair few dogs that haven't been trained, socialised and find themselves looking for a new home. I really do hope I am wrong...

Out on our group walks we have seen many new dogs and pups out eknowing walks, loving the summer sun and more recently the fresh autumnal weather - that is likely all about to change....winter is coming.

As the saying goes "There's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing"

It is really important to bear in mind that as we change into our warm winter wardrobe, look out our hats, scarfs and gloves, we remember that our dogs might need some extra care. The two most serious risks for dogs during the winter are frostbite and hypothermia.

Frostbite. Frostbite begins when the dog’s body gets cold. The body pulls blood from the extremities to the center of the body to stay warm. The dog’s ears, paws or tail can get so cold that ice crystals will form in the tissue and damage it. Frostbite is not immediately obvious. Watch for signs of pale or grey skin as the skin may also turn hard and cold. As frostbitten areas warm, they can be extremely painful. Severely frostbitten skin will eventually turn black and fall off.

Hypothermia. The other very serious winter weather health concern for dogs is hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when a dog spends too much time in the cold, gets wet in cold temperatures or when dogs with poor health or circulation are exposed to cold. In mild cases, the dog will shiver and ears and feet will become cold. As hypothermia progresses, your dog may show signs of depression, lethargy, and weakness. As the condition worsens, the muscles will stiffen, the heart and breathing rates slow down, and will not respond to stimuli. Severe hypothermia is life-threatening.

In general dogs are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, if your dogs isn't overly enthusiastic about going out a walk, it is likely sensing that it is too cold, so please take a cue from them - especially older or unwell dogs. The best way to evaluate your dog’s tolerance is to watch their behaviour. If as soon as you open the door to go outside, they turn around and try to go back inside or shiver uncontrollably, they will need a jacket.

When you get home from an especially icy or snowy walk, ensure that you defrost your dog thoroughly - make sure the ice between their pads is melted. Salt and de-icers that are put on roads cause paws pads to become dry, chapped and cracked. If the paw pads are painful, the dog will most likely lick the pads that are covered in salt and de-icers — and eating those chemicals can cause vomiting and stomach irritation. If your dog does happen to walk on these chemicals, thoroughly wash the paws with warm water.

To avoid chapped paw pads, buy a paw balm that you apply to the paw pads. This helps strengthen them. We love Wild Dog Co, Paw Balm.

Please remember that dogs need exercise regardless of the weather and if you are struggling to get out please get in touch with a reputable Dog Walker - exercise, socialisation and fun will help your dog be balanced and content 🐾