For many of us, we have reached the winter months and the white stuff has already covered the ground, or it will arrive soon. Winter sports enthusiasts are clamoring to put on their snowshoes, and dig out the trekking poles to hit the trails, whether they are groomed or just fresh powder trails on their own property. Since many dogs love a good romp in the snow, why not bring them along?
Snowshoeing is a wonderful activity for dogs that are in shape and can handle the demanding, snowy terrain. Climbing, running, and jumping in the snow will make a dog more tired than a regular walk, so distance should be minded on the first go, in order to gauge what the dog can handle. If the dog is normally a couch potato, snowshoeing is probably not the best activity for him. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, though. Short treks will help to build up stamina, and a veterinarian can make an assessment on what is a reasonable distance.
Safety should also be considered when snowshoeing. Most people bundle up in heavy coats, gloves, and layered clothing. While some dogs are well-equipped for cold weather, like huskies and malamutes, other dogs may need protective clothing to enjoy a longer snowshoe journey, especially if they have short fur and the temperatures dip into low ranges. Another issue to be prepared for is snow balling between the dog’s toes. This can be prevented by applying a paw balm to the feet before going outside. If no paw balm is on hand, Crisco serves as a good at-home substitute.
Another safety tip is to avoid bringing the dog to unfamiliar territory. Not only is this unsafe for people, it is also unsafe for the dog should something unexpected happen. Carrying a small first aid kit is recommended for longer walks, especially if the region is difficult to access or away from regular foot traffic. The dog should also be leashed if on public property or in an unfamiliar area. The snow can make it difficult for a dog to track their location by scent, and the leash helps to avoid getting separated.
With preparation and planning, snowshoeing can be an activity that winter sport athletes can participate in with their best friend!
This article was written by My Pet Saving’s contributor Melissa. She has a master’s degree in creative writing, owns several pets and runs her own online pet magazine. To learn more about this author check out the contributor profile page.