Fun in the Snow with Fido: Ways to Play with Your Dog in Winter

By Ashley Gallagher, DVM on Apr. 29, 2016

It is always exciting to get a fresh snowfall and dogs are just as excited as us to romp out in the snow.  There are a few things you will need to keep in mind to make sure that any winter activity with your dog is safe as well as fun.

While the snow is falling you may want to stay indoors with your dog, but don’t worry there is still fun to be had.  Now is the perfect time to work on training or teach your pup a new trick.  Remember to keep sessions around five to ten minutes long in order to keep everyone’s attention span fresh.  Multiple short sessions per day are much better for training than one long session.

Another fun indoor activity is to hide food and toys around the house and let your dog “hunt” for them.  This helps stimulate their mind, which can be just as exhausting as physical activity.  You should start simple and as he begins to figure out the game you can be more creative with your hiding places.  Toys that also dispense food and treats can also be used for mental stimulation.

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Once you are ready to head outside make sure that your dog is protected against the cold temperatures.  Shorthaired dogs will most likely need to wear a coat or sweater to help keep them warm.  Animals are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just like us so please protect them.  Ice and snow accumulate between furry toes causing cuts or irritation so check this frequently and consider using booties to protect delicate paws.

A walk through the woods or snow-covered streets is an enjoyable adventure for the whole family.  Dogs love running through the deep snow and don’t give much thought to racing across an icy patch of terrain.  Owners must be careful when letting pups run free as they can easily pull a muscle or slip and fall resulting in a more serious injury.

If you are outside shoveling or building a snowman be sure to let your pup join in on the fun.  A game of fetch becomes especially challenging when your dog needs to search through the snow to find the toy.  Snow is the perfect medium to satisfy a dog’s natural desire to dig so let them go crazy.

Keeping Your Dog Safe

Many of the chemicals used to keep sidewalks and roads free of ice can be toxic to pets. Toxicity is best avoided by cleaning paws after a walk so they don’t lick off the chemicals once you get home. If you will be salting your own property choose a product that specifies it is pet friendly.  

A snowy day is the perfect event to spend quality time with your dog both inside and outside.  If you are going to be outside be sure to bundle up any dogs that might need help keeping warm.  You should check the paws frequently for snow buildup or irritation from ice melting chemicals.  Please keep these important safety tips in mind but most of all have fun watching your dog delight in the snow.


Ashley Gallagher, DVM


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