Family and dog having fun in the country in winterJanuary is National Walk Your Dog Month and we at Billings Animal Family Hospital want to encourage you to keep that “get more active” new year’s resolution by walking your dog! Yes, those of us in a colder climate like Billings MT may find it a little harder to get motivated during the winter months, but walking has an undeniably positive effect on the health of your dog (and you, too!).

Before we get into the benefits, let’s cover a few of the winter dog walking caveats:

  • Avoid walking your dog during the colder times of day, such as sunrise, or when wind chill or freezing temps become a factor.
  • Bundle your pooch up in a fitted coat, boots, and scarf, or other winter layers to protect skin from frostbite, keep deicer and road salt off of paws, and make the walk more comfortable.
  • Supervise your dog to avoid the risk of pet poisoning from antifreeze or frostbite. Keep the walks shorter on colder days and observe your pet’s comfort level.
  • The Benefits of Walking Your Dog

    Like us, our pets are designed to move, and can experience lethargy and depression when exercise and activity are neglected. Here are some of the advantages of picking up that leash and heading out for some jogging or brisk walking with our canines.

  • By exercising your dog for 20-30 minutes a day, you will have a calmer, less excitable pooch at home.
  • You help reinforce the training and socialization skills learned, including basic commands and loose leash walking.
  • You will create quality time with your dog to bond and deepen your pet’s trust and response to you through a fun activity. This is also a great way to observe your pet without the distractions we experience at home.
  • Walking is a wonderful activity to promote weight management for pets and humans alike. If your dog is healthy and active, why not take up jogging or running, too?
  • Like us, pets can experience boredom when their routine consists of sleeping all day. Walking keeps the mind and body engaged and active!
  • Maintaining your dog’s walking schedule will help you maintain your own, and what an adorable exercise buddy.
  • Daily walking helps keep your pet’s heart, lungs, and muscles strong, and helps lessen joint pain and improve mobility. The same is true for humans.
  • What better way to get out of the winter blues than to get out with other dog lovers! Socialization is important for every dog’s wellbeing. Consider inviting friends and their dogs to join you on those daily walks.
  • When was the last time you enjoyed seeing your dog truly exuberant? Sometimes the best reason for adding more time to your pet’s daily exercise schedule is simply because it brings them joy, and by default, brings you some smiles, too.
  • While every dog will benefit from moderate to vigorous walking each day, it is important to make sure all vaccinations and relevant parasite preventives are current since exposure is increased when around other dogs and wildlife. And don’t forget to be a consciousness dog walker by picking up after your pooch and ensuring he or she is well-behaved around others.

    Happy National Walk Your Dog Month!