Outdoor adventures don’t have to stop when the cold weather and first snowfall come around. During the winter months, I trade in my sneakers for boots and ice cleats, throw on my base layers, waterproof pants and gloves, and head out with my dog to enjoy the day. Finding new ways to enjoy the cold with my dog has helped make the winters fly by, and has even given me a new appreciation for the season. Just like with any hiking adventure, there are some concerns you particularly want to pay attention to in the winter.
Before you run out the door it is important to know whether your dog will enjoy a long winter hike. Some dogs just do not tolerate the snow and cold and might need to stay home where they feel comfortable. You know your dog best and probably already know the answer to this question. Even if your dog loves the outdoors, keep an eye on them for signs of fatigue, injury and thirst; if you do this anyway all year round, keep up the good work!
Temperatures can fluctuate from below zero, to a northeast-heatwave of 50 degrees. It is important to monitor the temperatures outside, including the peak of any elevation you may hike to. The Mountain Forecast site is a great resource to track these temperatures and customize your trip based on the information. No matter how bundled up you may be, exposure should still be limited for dogs on those bitter days.
As mentioned above, safety for yourself should also be a priority. If you are hiking to any elevation or even just on a hilly trail, I strongly recommend having a pair of ice cleats. This will prevent you from falling, and improve your confidence when walking the trails. These are the ones I use, but there are so many to choose from, so find a pair that works for you.
Snowshoes are another fun way to get out and enjoy the winter. You can get an inexpensive pair online and I have even seen some recreational ones available at grocery stores.
Layers are key! Wearing base layers and waterproof pants (snow or rain pants) will help protect your body. The warmer you are, the more fun you will have!
Always carry your cellphone in case of emergency. There are also apps that can pin your parked car location in case you get lost on the trails.
For Your Dog:
There are many options for winter jackets and boots for dogs. If the terrain is icy, and you plan to be out for a while, boots should be used. Take a look at our previous post on outdoor gear for dogs.
A Sturdy harness or collar and leash should always be packed. If you are at an off-leash park, having these items on hand for any scenario that may occur is important.
Always have a blanket, towel, or both in your car in case of emergency.
First aid kits are essential for both you and your dog. Take a look at our checklist to create your own pet first aid kit.
And last, but certainly not least, you should always carry poop bags and water!
So what are you waiting for?! Let’s Go! Get out there and enjoy the winter! Share your adventure photos with us on Instagram @ethosvethealth, use #ethosvethealth.