Malc the Border Collie, Pete the German Wirehaired Pointer and Gladys the Miniature Dachshund. Three completely different dogs with completely different traits and nuances. One thing all three of them love to bits is playing in the snow.
Later in this post I will detail some precautions and care for your dogs in the snow but first let us concentrate on the fun!
Awakening after a heavy snowfall, the dogs see you grab the leads and think it is a normal adventure ahead, but no. You open the door and their eyes light up and whoosh! Off out the door they fly. Jumping and running around in the deep snow. Well, Gladys tends to hop around with her little legs.
It really doesn’t bother her that it takes extra effort to run and jump through it all. She is in the element.
They all go absolutely mad for it and would play and play in the garden for hours if they could.
Malc is a huge stick hunter for play, and the deep snow hides the lot. He spends a few minutes trying to find a stick then gives up and joins the play even more. Or looks for a pheasant to herd.
Of course he always has time to do a pose when called for. As well as learning to do it at trig points he has his signature dog camera pose when he sees the camera now.
Pete, is simply Pete, I recently took him on as a rescue and as a 3 year old German Wirehaired Pointer who has not seen much of the world so far. He is such a character, soft, playful and loveable. He throws himself into anything new. To see him the first time he ran in snow was such a joy.
Malc does like to show Pete the way and my word it can brighten my day to see them all having fun like this.
Winter Safety For Dogs In Snow
I have three breeds of dogs that are completely different in shapes and sizes but yes they are breeds that were created for outdoor work in all weathers. Malc the herding border collie, for working the fields and hills all day for hours.
Pete a Pointer that was created with waterproof and warming wire hair to help on long hunts in all weathers. Gladys the Dachshund, developed for hunting badgers and getting busy in the outdoors.
That doesn’t mean I just let them out in winter and don’t worry at all, it just means I can worry a little less. Many other breeds need care in winter and all breeds should watch for certain things.
Winter and a dog’s paws
Us humans most certainly put boots an socks on when walking in winter. If not we would get frostbite for sure. With dogs it is not so simple. Even the hairiest dogs have bare skin-like paws that actually touch the cold surface. Think back to their ancient ancestor, the wolf. They prowl all day in the snow, so genetics has helped a lot of modern breeds to help with cold. Without getting too scientific, dogs have a heat and circulatory system that keeps the pads at a good temperature on snow and ice.
Of course wolves do what wolves do. And us humans have changed and softened some breeds of canine down the years and they need a lot of help from us that wolves don’t!
Dry and cold conditions can cause dry and cracked skin on the paws. I always keep an eye on my dogs paws and you must make sure you dry them regularly, especially each time they come inside.
You can buy many paw pad moisturisers on the market but a top tip (if you can get it) is getting hold of the moisturiser used by farmers on a cow’s udders, perfectly designed for this purpose.
Think what is on the ground in winter
The white fresh snow looks beautiful doesn’t it? But with snow and ice comes things that dog owners should be wary of.
Salt and Grit – Yes, it helps get the world moving by car and on foot but salt and grit can be dangerous for dogs. It can really inflame and harm the pads but also the dogs reaction is to then lick their paws.
Things like rock salt can very quickly cause a sodium overdose in the dog’s blood. If you think your dog has ingested salt or grit that can be seen to have affected them please call the vet. I try to avoid gritted paths and roads when possible.
All of us with cars in winter tend to use antifreeze. And dogs are attracted to it and love the taste of it, it is a sweet treat to them. However antifreeze is very very toxic to a dog. Even a small amount can cause internal organs to fail, and very quickly. Ethylene glycol is the ingredient that is the culprit.
If you have your dog in and out of the car a lot for walkies etc just be careful of any antifreeze you have used hasn’t contaminated the ground area around and the dogs start licking it. Also if you walk your dog in towns on pathways or through car parks etc, keep an eye out for the tell tale blue stains on the snow.
This is another example of why to clean paws after every walk.
Personally I am not a fan of having a coat on a dog for fashion sake, but some dogs would benefit from a coat in cold and extreme weathers. Lurchers are a great example. Their skin is very thin indeed and if they have their sprint and then stop in the cold, it can really affect them. Gladys often needs a coat on a longer winter hike or on a snowy mountain climb as can be seen in a recent climb of Whernside. The coat stopped her getting to an uncomfortable shivering completely.
Of course don’t let these things put you or your dogs off heading out and playing in the snow. They are just things to be wary of.
Get outside, enjoy the fresh air and let your dogs enjoy the jumping, playing and bounding around in the winter. As I said before it is such a joy to see them enjoying it.
P.S. Dog poo does not melt away with the snow as some people must believe. In fact, cold makes it harder and thus takes longer for it to break down, so please pick it up.