Dark walkies: Keeping you and your dog safe

With darker nights already upon us, many dog owners will have little choice but to take their dogs on evening ‘walkies’ due to shorter daylight hours. If you’re going to be one of them, it’s important to take steps to keep both yourself and your dog as safe as possible. This can potentially be a very dangerous time of year, not least because of the lack of visibility.

Here are our tips for pet safety on dark winter walkies.

Make them visible

Make sure that your dog can be seen easily by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians during your walks. Visibility may range from poor to non-existent in areas that are badly lit and others may have no way of knowing that you are there until it is too late. Reflective clothing and a head torch can be invaluable for highlighting your presence, as can LED lights on your dog’s leash and/or collar (such as this Animate Walking Mate soft nylon LED dog collar).

Keep your dog on a lead

Keep your dog on a lead throughout your walks for maximum safety. It’s not at all uncommon for dogs to become disorientated, especially at times where there’s snow or ice on the ground. Even without this, there is still big possibility for your dog to become anxious or distressed. Strange noises from wildlife that they cannot see well or at all can scare your pet into running off, even if they pose no obvious threat, for example.

A Chihuahua in a winter coat as the sun sets - Dark Walkies

Stick to places that you know

When walking your dog after dark, it’s definitely best to stick to areas that you know well. Ideally, these will be well-lit, but if this isn’t an option, it’s even more important to keep things simple.

Keep them warm

Once the sun disappears, there can be a noticeable change in temperature. Short haired dogs and those with thin coats will feel the cold more strongly and should therefore be extremely well protected to keep their body temperature stable. A doggy coat is a must in cold weather (even during the daytime) and even more vital for evening walks. You can go a step further than this and opt for a reflective coat to keep your dog warm and make them stand out in the dark.

If the weather is cold enough, any dog could potentially suffer from frostbite – particularly on their nose. This is even more likely if there are also cold, harsh winds thrown into the mix. Play it safe and don’t take your dog out on evening walks if the temperature drops to freezing or below.  Even with a warm doggy coat, they could still experience frostbite.

As always, it’s a wise choice to put dog insurance in place in case of the unexpected. For more information on winter walkies, read our blog post on Dog Walking in Winter

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