by Dorian Wagner
With winter in full swing, the cooler-weather season is upon us. It's time to trade in tank tops for fleece, and if you regularly run with your dog, it's important to think about how the difference in temperature affects your pet as well.
Dogs do have built-in fur coats, but that doesn't mean they are protected from all chilly conditions. A general rule to follow is that if it's too cold for you to run outside, it's too cold for your dog.
There are several things you can do to safeguard your dog from freezing temps and to make sure it stays comfortable and safe on the running path.
Frozen ground and rocky, rough surfaces can rub your dog's paws raw in the winter. If your dog will wear them, dog booties are the best option to shield tender paws. Be sure not to tie the booties too tight so they don't cut off circulation or dig into skin, and keep an eye on them during your run to make sure the booties stay on.
If your dog will not wear shoes, another option is Musher's Secret, a waxy product that you rub onto your pup's feet to protect them from the elements and prevent cracking. It is natural and permeable, so dogs can still sweat through it.
Even with the proper covering, keep an eye out to be sure your dog's paws don't get frostbitten. If you notice they are, slowly warm them with your own hands and wrap them in towels. See a veterinarian if necessary.
As far as clothing goes, dogs with undercoats -- like collies, labs, huskies and shepherds -- are generally fine to run in the cold, without additional layers. Single-coated dogs -- like Weimaraners, Vizslas and pit bulls -- should wear a jacket or fleece, depending on how cool it is.
Once you and your pup are properly geared up, be sure to bring along water for both of you. Cooler temps may mean less sweat, but both of you can still become dehydrated. If your run is a longer one, think about packing some treats for the trip as well.
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Pets | Dogs: Running With Your Dog During Cooler Weather