top of page
  • Marcy Santos

Winter Safety Tips for Walking Your Dog

When the snow starts to fly and the temperature drops, it can be challenging to get outside to get some exercise—for both you and your dog. However, getting some fresh air and being able to stretch is still beneficial for you and your pet. When it comes to dog walking outside during the winter, consider following the tips listed below.

Protect Their Paws

Your dog’s paws are pretty tough, but the winter weather can still cause damage. Protecting their paws is essential in preventing injury and potential infections. There are several ways to keep your dog’s paw protected over the winter.

1. Keep the Fur Clipped

Keeping the fur between your dog’s toes clipped will reduce the chances of ice from forming on their paws. If ice begins to clump, this can make it difficult for them to walk or lead to frostbite.

2. Put Them in Boots

Putting your dog in boots is not only adorable, but it also keeps their paws protected when going for a walk. Not only do you have to worry about ice and snow, but the salt and other chemicals that are placed on sidewalks to help ice melt can also impact your dog’s paws.

3. Wipe Their Paws

As soon as you get home, it’s a good idea to wipe your dog’s paws with a warm washcloth or pre-moistened pet wipe. This will remove any ice or debris that has accumulated on their feet. Getting rid of these items before they lick their paws will ensure that they don’t get sick.

4. Add a Moisturizer

Winter weather can quickly and easily dry out your dog’s paws, which can lead to painful cracking and an increased risk of infection. To prevent this from happening, you might consider using a pet-safe skin conditioner on their pads after you have wiped them down.

How Long Can a Dog be Outside?

When it comes to dog walking in the winter, how long you stay outside will depend on several factors. Like people, dogs have different cold tolerances. Some really enjoy being outside in the snow, while others prefer to do their business and go back in. Keeping an eye on your dog and watching their behavior will give you an indication of how long they can be outside.

On average, if the weather is around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you and your dog can be outside for 30 to 45 minutes. If it is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, then you might consider limiting your outdoor excursion to only 5 or 10 minutes.

You might consider putting a coat or sweater on your dog to help keep them warm. If you are bundled up to go outside, they probably should be too. Signs to look for that are an indication that your dog needs to get back inside include:

  • Shivering

  • Whining

  • Stopping

  • Looking for a place to burrow

  • Constantly lifting their paws

You know your dog best, so if you see any other indicators that they are no longer enjoying their walk or they seem cold, head back home. It’s in the best interest of your dog’s health and safety as well as your own.

Potential Risks

There are many risks that come with walking your dog in winter, and being aware of these hazards is essential in keeping your dog safe.

Antifreeze Poisoning

When the weather gets cold, many people change or add more antifreeze to their vehicle to keep it running optimally. While doing this, some of the antifreeze may be spilled onto the ground. If your dog ingests it, it could cause serious problems, including death. If you spill antifreeze at your home, make sure to clean it up as soon as possible. If you encounter it while on a walk, avoid the area at all costs.


Your dog may have a layer of fur that helps protect their skin, but if they are exposed to ice, snow or bitter cold wind for too long, they can still get frostbitten. Some areas are more susceptible than others, including at their armpits, ears and around their hindquarters.

Signs that they might have frostbite include pale, hard skin that continues to remain cold after being inside. They may also lick the area more often, as frostbite can be irritating. If you notice any of these spots on your dog, contact your vet for advice on what should be done and to assess the severity.

Getting outside with your dog during the winter is a great way to get fresh air and exercise, but you need to take some precautions to keep your pet safe.


bottom of page