This past winter during one of our Q&A's on Instagram we got asked a question we hadn't been asked before and it brought up a great topic that intrigued us and resulted in a lot of research to answer correctly and educate others. The question was about tips for hiking in extremely cold temperatures with your dog and if it's safe. We actually fell in love with the idea of "ice hiking" as we call it (because of the freezing temperatures) with your dogs, so here is some research and important things to know if you want to hike with your dogs in subfreezing temperatures.
Knowing the basics!
Before you decide to take your dog out in extreme cold weather you need to make sure you take into consideration your dog's breed, health, and age. Not all dogs are built to withstand cold temperatures even if it is for a hike. If your dog is a puppy or on the older side we don't recommend taking them out on these extreme hikes very long due to the higher risk of potential injuries from navigating in thick snow and freezing temperatures.
Try and be smart about the trails you choose. If you know the trail is harder and covered in deep snow it probably isn't best trail to hike with your dog in extreme temperatures. Consider the length of the hike as well. Just like taking short hikes in the summer heat you should probably shorten your hikes in the winter if the weather is extreme. If the temperature is above freezing you can obviously go longer but we highly recommend only hiking no more than 40 minutes in below freezing temperatures.
Have the right gear!
Make sure you're properly prepared with your gear just like any other hike. Things you should probably have with you for your dog during cold winter hikes are:
A good quality snow winter jacket.
Water (Warm water will help keep your pups body temperature up.)
Paw protectant balm.
Let's talk frostbite!
Did you know that your dog can get frostbite and hypothermia!? Here are some things to look out for if your dog is getting too cold.
Whining or barking while hiking for no reason.
Your dog is continually stopping and picking up their paws.
They appear anxious and uncomfortable resulting in them looking for cover or shelter.
Very cold paws, nose, ears, or tip of the tail, or you begin to see discoloration in those areas that might be a sign of early frostbite setting in.
Trouble breathing and is beginning to appear clumsy or lazy while hiking they might also be in the early stages of hypothermia.
How to counteract hypothermia!
Try to warm your dog up with thick warm jackets and blankets to increase their body temperature.
Seek immediate veterinary attention so your dog can properly recover if they end up with frostbite or hypothermia.
Try to minimize any movement to conserve body heat and immediately bring your dog back to your car.
If your dog is wet do your best to dry them off and give your dog any warm liquid to drink. If you can give them warm sugar water. Usually dogs will become lethargic in this type of scenario and that will help boost their energy a bit and help replenish any electrolytes lost.
Hiking with your dog in extreme temperatures can be such a unique and rewarding experience! we hope these tips help prepare you for your next snowy adventure!