Festive Season walks are part of being a dog owner and there’s nothing better than getting out in the neighborhood when the holidays are in full flow, but if you live in the colder regions of the U.S. you’ll have adverse weather to contend with.


With their coats and their natural thermostat, dogs are well suited to colder temperatures and can withstand some pretty chilly conditions, but there are few things you should keep in mind, and dogs are not infallible to the cold. Some breeds are better suited than others, and it’s not only the plummeting temperatures you need to be aware of. Snow and ice present other hazards too.


We’ve outlined some useful tips to keep in mind this winter, and over the Festive Season at large.


Invest in a winter coat


If you live in the United States’ colder areas, you’ll be fully accustomed to the plummeting temperatures at this time of the year. Invest in a dog coat to keep your dog warm and look for one that protects against wind and the damp too. There’s nothing worse than your dog getting wet and coming home shivering cold.


Be attentive to frostbite


Like people, dogs get frostbite too. Check the pads of the feet, the ears, the tail and the nose for redness and warm up the area with a washcloth. Dry with a towel afterward.


Don’t let your dog eat a lot of snow


Did you know that snow can be harmful to your dog? A little lick here and there isn’t likely to cause any harm, but snow can irritate your dog’s stomach, and sometimes contains harmful unseen chemicals.


Take water with you


If your dog is licking every snow-capped surface he’s going past, chances are he’s dehydrated. Have a water bottle handy to keep the temptation at bay – and to keep him satiated.


Wipe your dog’s paws after a walk


Dogs love to lick their paws after a walk, but if it’s been snowing, or there’s mud out, dogs can get make themselves sick as a result. Wipe paws with a warm washcloth or a wet wipe, and dry with a towel.


Use petroleum jelly on the paws


In addition to the point above, apply a little petroleum jelly before the walk for a layer of thermal protection. The paws need plenty of looking after so invest in dog boots if temperatures are really plummeting.


Have your dog eat before they leave the house


To reduce the likelihood that your dog will try and gnaw on anything he finds during the walk, give him a meal before you head out the door. Road salt and antifreeze can both be harmful for your animal are often present in snowy surfaces. Who needs the stress of finding a vet for a sick doggy over the Christmas period?


Up the food he’s getting


In winter, it’s a good idea to give your dog a little extra in his bowl at mealtimes. Extra padding courtesy of fat is never a bad idea when the Fahrenheit is dropping, but be sure to keep exercise a top priority all the same. Simply letting your dog gorge on bigger meals sans any exercise is not a good idea. As ever, exercise is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle.


Keep nails short


Dogs with long, untrimmed nails will slip and slide on icy ground. Keep nails trimmed to improve your dog’s ability to walk without difficulty.   


Remember that breed matters


Dogs with long fur coats are going to be better suited to the cold. Chihuahuas, Miniature Pinschers, Greyhounds, and Terriers are all unsuited to extended stints in frigid temperatures.