Walking your pooch in winter

Updated 29 May 2024
Read time: 5 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham
Lead Copywriter

It might not be something you’ve really given too much thought to before, but the way you walk your dog during different seasons can vary drastically.


People usually know about the dangers of walking during the hot (if we’re lucky) summer - but winter can also come with its challenges!


Don’t avoid the walks altogether if conditions are a little treacherous, instead swat up on how to look after your fur baby during those colder, frostier times so that they’re comfortable, happy, warm and safe.


Make sure your dog can be seen in the dark

Winter months come armed with early dark nights, meaning you might find yourself on the evening walk in complete darkness.


It’s really important that both you and the pooch are visible to cars and other passers-by. You might be able to see them, but it doesn’t mean they can see you.


Invest in a reflective coat, collar or harness for your pooch so they’re bright and visible and there’s less risk of any accidents occurring. Safety first!


Put a coat on them

Just like us, dogs feel that big drop in temperature. Just because they have a layer of fur, doesn’t mean they’re protected from the cold.


Some breeds do cope better with the colder weather - but others who don’t have an undercoat really need that extra thermal layer.


Dog breeds that do have an undercoat include:

  • Akitas
  • Huskies
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Chow Chows
  • German Shepherds

If your pooch doesn’t have a fur coat that’s like these breeds, there’s a good chance you’ll need to invest in a good-quality jacket, coat, jumper or fleece.


If you’re struggling to get your dog into a warm covering, then read our blog on dogs wearing clothes for some advice.


There are some breeds that really do need that extra TLC when it comes to keeping warm during walks. These are usually:

  • Teacup, toy or smaller dog breeds
  • Leaner breeds with a lower body fat percentage such as Whippets, Greyhounds and Lurchers
  • Short-haired breeds such as Beagles, Labradors and Boxers

Of course, the breed list under each bullet point is much more extensive than this - so if you don’t know your dog’s coat type already, it’s worth doing some research to see how they typically react to the cold weather.


Age and health are also really important factors to consider. Puppies and golden oldies will feel the cold more, and those pooches who have certain health conditions may be more sensitive.


A brown curly-haired dog wearing a scarf, against a mustard yellow background


Keep their fur neat and tidy

If you have a longer-haired pooch that’s prone to knots and tangles, we recommend regular grooming and brushing so the weather doesn’t cause problems.


We’re not suggesting you get their fur clipped short as that would be counterproductive, but keeping it neat and tidy means the weather won’t cause troublesome knots and mats.


If such problems occur it can be really uncomfortable for them, and in some cases detrimental to their health - and really long hair can take longer to dry meaning they’ll be wearing a damp coat, making them feel cold and shivery.


Take care of their paws

The same knotting and tangling mentioned above can happen around their paws during winter too, which can cause damage to their precious feet and pads.


Before you take them out for a walk, make sure their feet fur is kept short. There are other measures you can take too, to make sure their little pitter patter feet are winter ready:

  • Dog booties or socks They might seem like a lot of effort to put on, but dog booties or socks can be super effective. They keep their feet warm on frozen or snowy paths, and stop grit, salt and snow getting between their toes. Not just a fashion accessory, eh!
  • Apply paw balm There are lots of pet balms on the market which are excellent during the winter months. Apply to their paws and nose regularly to keep them soft and moisturised - avoiding painful cracks, sores and dry skin
  • Clean their paws after walkies We’re not just talking about removing the muck here - winter comes with a whole host of unbeknown dangers. Grit and salt chemicals can get stuck between their toes which can be extremely dangerous if they lick it, and ice and snow can cause frostbite if paws are left cold and uncleaned - which can be fatal. We recommend using warm water and cotton wool to gently clean pads and between those toes.


Keep active to keep warm


Keep up those games of fetch during the winter months, and encourage your pup to keep active.


This will help keep their temperature higher to avoid feeling the cold, and is great for their body and mind too!


Stay safe around snow and ice

If you usually let your dog run free off lead, it’s probably not the best option when there’s snow or ice around.


A snow blanket may cover deep patches or holes that are unsafe, meaning if your pooch is running riot they could fall and hurt themselves.


The same goes for ice - they may see a frozen lake or pond and run across without understanding the dangers. Keep them on the lead at all times so you know they’re free from hazards while they’re by your side.


If you notice your pooch’s behaviour change during the cold weather or they seem hesitant to go out, you might need to look at making small changes to help them feel more at ease. And if you have any health concerns, then contact your vet ASAP.

Comments (1)

I keep being told by friends and family that my dog doesn’t need a coat in winter as she has fur!!! So good to find out that I am right in putting a coat on her.

Libby - Jan 26 2024

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