Is it safe to walk dogs in snow? Top tips and how to prevent salt grit in paws

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Heavy snow has hit large swathes of Britain this week as temperatures plummet to as low as -10C.

Met Office weather warnings are in place for parts of the UK as forecasters fear another Beast from the East could bring freezing air from Siberia.

While Brits are being urged to take extra care, many of us have pets that need to be taken out regularly.

While it can be tempting take your dog out for its daily walk and to play, even in the snow, you must know the best advice to ensure your pooch remains safe in freezing temperatures as hidden dangers can be lurking.

More dangers than just snow

It is not just the cold weather itself that can be dangerous for dogs, but also the grit sprayed onto roads and pavements to try and melt the snow and ice.

This grit can harm dogs because it contains chemicals that can lead to burns on paws if they come into prolonged contact.

Dangers for dogs in the snow

It's not just the cold weather that's dangerous for pooches right now in the UK but, rather, the grit put down on roads and pavements to prevent people from slipping – or cars from crashing.

For dogs, this salt grit can be particularly harmful because it contains chemicals which can produce burns on paws if they come into prolonged contact. So it's best to avoid walking on gritted surfaces where possible.

Another danger is ice balls forming between the pads and toes on their feet, or clinging around the surrounding fur, particularly on dogs hairy feet.

This can not only be uncomfortable for your pooch, but the slush and ice on the roads may also contain harmful chemical de-icing products.

Therefore it's always worth checking for ice balls on your dog's paws and and remove any you find, particularly if they suddenly seem uncomfortable or start limping.

How to keep your dog safe

Dogs still need exercise even when it snows, but owners should take care
(Image: PA)

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A good general rule is if you feel too cold, it's probably too cold for your dog to be out for an extended period of time too.

The Dog's Trust has some tips for those who do venture out:

  • Keep your them on a lead. Heavy snow can disorientate your dog and they can get easily lost.
  • Don't let them venture onto frozen ponds: you don't know if the ice is thick enough to take their weight. If they fall through, don't be tempted to go in to rescue them. Instead, try and encourage your dog to swim towards you and call the emergency services.
  • Wipe your dog's legs, feet and stomach as soon as you come indoors to get grit, snow and slush off their feet and fur.
  • Do not let your dogs near antifreeze. While it's tasty, it's also highly poisonous.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar, ID tag and is microchipped and check the microchipping database is up to date with your current address and contact details.

The RSPCA also advises: "You may not feel like going for a walk in winter, but the exercise will keep your pet happy and healthy. You and your dog should wear reflective clothing to ensure you're both visible.

"Keep your dogs away from ponds and lakes that are iced over. Thin ice may break under a dog's weight. Also watch out for your dogs' paws becoming impacted with snow, which can cause discomfort."

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