Despite the rain, mud, fog and cold: dogs have to go out into the fresh air and do their business, even in autumn and winter. We have 5 tips on what to look out for when walking your dog in autumn and winter.
Even in autumn and winter, dogs have to go out into the fresh air several times a day. There are a few special features to consider when going for walks, because there are a number of dangers for dogs and owners in the cold and dark seasons. You should pay particular attention to these five aspects when walking the dog in autumn and winter.
The danger of slipping when walking the dog in autumn and winter
Humid weather and fall foliage are a dangerous mix. If the first ground frost is added, the ground becomes slippery and slippery.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re on foot or by bike: if your dog pulls on the leash, you can easily slip. In addition, car, motorcycle and cyclist drivers cannot brake as quickly when it is slippery and wet, which is why double caution is required when walking in autumn and winter.
Caution: Slightly frozen waters are treacherous, the ice is still very thin and can collapse.
Acorns and chestnuts are life-threatening for dogs
When you go for an autumn walk with your dog, you should definitely make sure that your dog does not eat or nibble on acorns or chestnuts. Acorns contain tannin, a substance that is toxic to dogs. Depending on the amount, the dog can vomit or have diarrhea or suffer fatal kidney failure.
It can also happen that swallowed acorns lead to a life-threatening intestinal blockage. Small pieces of acorns, especially the pointed shell, can also injure the intestinal wall. The same goes for chestnuts.
In this context, caution is especially required when the dog is digging in a pile of leaves: Here it can swallow acorns and chestnuts without you noticing. In addition, worm eggs are often hidden in the foliage. Therefore, you should also do a worm treatment in autumn.
Do not let your dog drink from puddles while walking
During the autumn and winter walk, dogs should not drink from puddles. Because bacteria can collect in the puddles, which small rodents such as mice or rats excrete with their urine. The so-called leptospira feel particularly comfortable in standing water.
When dogs drink from puddles or water holes that contain these bacteria, they contract the deadly disease leptospirosis!
This danger does not only exist in autumn and winter, but all year round! The leptospira feel particularly comfortable in warm waters, but they can also last for several weeks in cool waters! Especially in autumn it often rains and the puddles are constantly filled.
Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs
The bacteria spread in the dog’s body within about a week. The first symptoms of leptospirosis during this time are often non-specific in dogs. These include, among others:
- loss of appetite
- yellow mucous membranes
If the dog is not treated in the early stages of the disease, fatal kidney failure will result. It is therefore important that you…
… don’t let your dog drink from puddles in the first place.
… watch your dog closely over the next few days if it does drink from a puddle.
… consult a veterinarian immediately at the first symptoms, even non-specific ones.
For more information on symptoms, transmission, vaccination and treatment of leptospirosis in dogs click here.
Vaccination against leptospirosis in dogs
There are vaccines against leptospirosis in dogs. However, it is important to use a vaccine that protects against all four subspecies of the pathogen. Older vaccines often do not meet this criterion, which is why vaccinated dogs can also contract leptospirosis. It is best to ask your veterinarian for advice.
Good visibility even when walking in autumn and winter
In autumn and winter it gets light late and dark early. Morning and evening walks therefore often take place at dusk or in the dark. You should therefore pay attention to this when walking:
- Equip yourself and your dog with lights. This is important so that drivers, cyclists and joggers can recognize you from afar.
- If your dog is allowed to run free, it is particularly important that you also equip it with a light collar or harness.
Caution: Reflectors only flash when light falls on them. Where there is no street lighting, only the luminous collar draws attention to its wearer.
Properly grooming your dog before and after autumn and winter walks
With regard to grooming and dog health, there are some special features in autumn and winter. You should pay attention to these aspects before, during and after a walk in the cold season:
- Keep your dog moving when it’s cold! Most dogs don’t mind the cold. However, if you stand in one place for a long time, for example if the owner is talking to someone for a long time, you can cool down and freeze.
- Most dogs don’t need “winter clothes”. They are protected from the cold by their winter fur. An exception here are particularly young, old or sick dogs or dogs without an undercoat (e.g. Chihuahua).
- Wetness is usually more dangerous than cold: If your dog has gotten wet from rain, snow or from jumping into the water, it can no longer keep itself really warm. He has to dry off quickly or he’ll catch a cold. Rubbing with a towel is not enough for completely wet dogs.
- Check your dog for fleas before returning home from a walk. If the dog has rummaged in a pile of leaves in which a hedgehog has stayed, fleas may have jumped onto your dog.
- Adjust the amount of food to the temperatures: In the cold season, a walk costs more energy, which is why you should increase the amount of food slightly. The emphasis here is on easy, because of course the dog should not become overweight. Make the transition slowly to be gentle on the dog’s digestive tract.