Snow days can be great fun for you and your dog, but dealing with consistently harsh and long winters can take its toll. If you have to have your dog out in extreme snowy conditions regularly, then there are certain bits of kit that will make walks much more enjoyable for you both.
We have pulled together a list of some of the products that come up trumps in terms of their practical functions.
Also, check out our detailed article on dealing with snowy weather conditions when you have a dog for more general guidance.
There are a few things that may be worthwhile investing in if your dog is regularly out in very snowy conditions
- Gear to Help Protect Paws
- Some Recommended Dog Clothing for Wintry Weather Conditions
- Other Handy Gear for Snowy Weather
Gear to Help Protect Paws
The two big things you have to consider when out in snowy conditions are the cold temperatures and the impact the snow and ice can have on your dog’s paws. The snow can gather in the paws and become hard packed, making it very uncomfortable for your dog to walk on, and the ice can be very abrasive and damaging. If you are not careful, your pup’s pads can quickly become sore, blistered and even rubbed completely raw. Packed frost can lead to frostbite in extreme cases. It is important to make sure that they are properly protected.
In areas where salt and grit is being applied to the paths and roads, this can also cause problems for your dog. Not only can the salt sting when it seeps into their pads but, if they still have any lingering on their pads and fur when they come indoors, licking it off can give them severe tummy upsets. It is always important to make sure that your dog’s feet are protected against this or that they, at least, get a good rinse off when you get back.
Some breeds have coats that seem to gather the snow more, and they are more likely to have problems with snowballs forming on their paws and other parts of their body. Even the hardiest of dogs that have been bred to withstand the cold weather can have problems with their paws if they are not looked after properly when they out in the snow for extended periods. If you have ever seen Siberian Huskies pulling the sleds, you will often see them in boots, or they will have had a paw wax barrier applied.
1. Mushers Secret Paw Wax
There are many Paw Waxes on the market, but the one that consistently seems to come out on top is the Mushers Secret Paw Wax.
Not only can this create a barrier to prevent the grit and salt hurting your dog’s paws but it can also help to stop the snow and ice building up around the pads. It also keeps the pads moist, supple and free of cracks. It can even be used up the legs to stop the feathers gathering snowballs.
It is non-toxic, doesn’t have a strong smell and is not super greasy either. A little goes a long way so, although a tub is pretty expensive, it will last well.
Some people also use it to help protect their dog’s pads on hot pavements and road surfaces in the extreme hot temperatures. It will not stop them from being burnt, so you should not take your dogs on these sort of surfaces when they are too hot (if it is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for them also), but it will help to stop them cracking and drying out in the hot temperatures.
Some people even swear by it for helping with chafing for humans too. Some canicrossers (people that run with their dogs competitively) use it for their dog’s paws and also for themselves to prevent nipple and bottom chafe!
Like any product that you are applying to your dog’s skin, only a small amount to a restricted area should be applied initially to ensure that your dog does not have a sensitivity to the ingredients. If you are out for prolonged periods in extremely deep snow or ice, it is likely that boots would prove a more appropriate source of protection.
2. Pawz Disposable Boots
Paw wax is sometimes just not enough protection, this can be the case on particularly deep snow days, when there has been a fresh dump as it often sticks more when it is powdery, or when you are out with your dog for longer walks or hikes.
In this case, it is perhaps a better option to consider using some practical and protective boots. There are a lot of different types on the market, and every dog is different with regards to what fits them best and what they are likely to tolerate, but we have suggested a couple of different popular options here.
The Pawz Disposable Boots are not a perfect solution given that they are not designed to last a lifetime, but they do have a lot of advantages.
Each pack comes with 12 boots, and they look almost like little rubber uninflated balloons, although the material is, of course, much more durable. If you get the right size, they fit very snugly around your dog’s paw. Many standard boots come off too easily with use. Once the Pawz boots are on, a lot of dogs will tolerate them better than normal heavier and bulkier boots which often impede their natural movement and can cause them to walk very robotically. They are also a lot cheaper than a good quality pair of firmer boots, so if you only need to use them occasionally, it could save you having to spend so much money.
They can be a more tricky to get on than a firm, structured boot; there is a bit of a knack that comes with practice. If you have a nervous dog or they are not happy to have their paw restrained while you practice fitting them it could prove a bit tricky at first. You also have to be mindful of the nails when getting them on. They can get caught on the rubber, so you need to make sure that they are positioned correctly when pulling them on to avoid any discomfort.
The boots are not designed to withstand rigorous and frequent use, eventually, they will begin to show signs of wear and tear and will need to be replaced. I have used one pair on multiple snowy walks though before they have had to be thrown away. Sometimes, if your dog has protruding, longer nails, this is actually what eventually ruins the boot as the nail can puncture the rubber.
They offer great protection against salt and grit and will ensure that no snow or ice will build up in the pads. They can also be useful for protecting an injured paw, for helping a dog that has mobility issues and can’t get traction on a slippery floor, for walking on hotter surfaces or for offering extra protection if your dog has grass allergies.
3. Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots
If you and your dog are out for extended periods in deep snow or ice regularly then investing in a durable, practical and well fitting pair of boots could prove to be essential.
The Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots are the number one choice for police dogs, search and rescue dogs, drug detection dogs and often mushing sled dogs and canicross trail running dogs too.
They are extremely robust with tough Vibram rubber soles. This means that they will withstand a variety of rough terrain and they also offer excellent grip.
One issue that does crop up in customer feedback is that, if they are being worn for long periods or if your dog still has their dew claw, rubbing is a possibility. By using the Ruffwear liner socks that are available to purchase separately, or some people use toddler socks, this can help prevent this from happening, and it can also help to hold the boot in place even more securely too.
The boots are incredibly expensive but, if you know that they will be well used, then they could be a very worthwhile investment.
Some Recommended Dog Clothing for Wintry Weather Conditions
Every dog is different when it comes to dog coats. Depending on their body shape and levels of physicality, they may suit one coat better than another.
Breeds with unusual body shapes can be particularly challenging to find an appropriate coat for and sometimes a specialised coat may be a better choice.
Long, slim breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets often benefit from a Sighthound Coat, they tend to feel the cold more than some breeds so may need an extra cosy coat and one that is designed to fit their more unusual body shape.
Some of the stouter, wide-headed flat-faced, brachycephalic breeds like Pugs or French Bulldogs often need a particularly deep coat that does not have a narrow, non-adjustable head opening.
Long bodied and short-legged breeds like Dachshunds often need a breed specific cut too. Standard coats that work for them in length then tend to be too deep in the chest and can impede their movement.
If you can try on the coats at a store, then this would be a much more sensible option than ordering online. Even if you do take the correct measurements, there is no guarantee the coat will fit your dog’s body shape well.
I don’t think there is necessarily one perfect coat, but these three are ones that regularly come in amongst the top reviewed for the very extreme winter weather conditions.
4. Hurtta Extreme Warmer Dog Winter Coat
The Hurtta coat ranges are not cheap, but they are very well-reviewed in terms of their functionality and weather appropriate properties. They tend to have a good fit (if you can get the right size) and they offer good insulating properties.
The Hurtta Extreme Warmer Dog Winter Coat is their warmest coat, so on dry but cold and snowy days this could be a good choice. Some users have observed that in the deep snow it can gather in the front chest area and build up into an uncomfortable ice block. This could be solved by putting a full chest covering fleece or sweater underneath the coat.
Some people have also said that they found it tricky to choose the right size when ordering online so it is important to take very meticulous measurements or try to find a shop that supplies them so you can take your dog in for a fitting.
The other very popular winter coat from the brands’ range is the Hurtta Summit Parka Dog Winter Coat. It is not quite as insulating as the Extreme Warmer, but it is waterproof.
5. Ruffwear Powderhound Coat
If you do have your dog out in deep snow and you want to avoid the problem of it getting stuck up the front of the coat (as some users describe can happen with the Hurtta coats), then you may want to consider the Ruffwear Powderhound Coat as an alternative. This is another of the winter coats that comes up at the top of the list for many owners that have to walk their dogs in serious snowy conditions regularly.
It has a super cozy, insulated upper part and the lower part is designed to keep snow and slush from gathering and being absorbed. It can also help to minimise the amount of snowballing that might occur on your dog’s undercarriage as it covers this section too.
The biggest problem for some users is that it can chafe around the top of the legs where the “arm” section is. If your dog has wide legs and it is too tight fitting over this section, it may not be the best option. Or you could try rubbing some Mushers Secret Paw Wax or Coconut Oil over the area to see if this helps.
It is another expensive coat too but, if you know you can get a good fit and you plan to be out regularly in deep snow it may be a good choice.
6. Equafleece Sweater/ Trouser Suit
I love the Equafleece products. It is a UK company, so there are only limited options available via Amazon or other US sellers, but they do ship worldwide directly too if you want access to the full range.
Their products are made from high quality and cozy fleece material. It is water resistant and does hold up pretty well in the wet weather. If you get the right fit it sits very comfortably on your dog, is much less bulky than many coats and it gives good freedom of movement, and a lot of dogs are more comfortable in this than in many coats.
The Equafleece Sweater covers most of the body, except for the back end and back legs and it can be great for keeping snowballs at bay and keeping your dog warm when on walks or even just to go outside to potty or, if your house is not the warmest in winter, it can be used indoors too.
They are easy to wash, durable and well made and, although they are not the cheapest items, they are not as expensive as Hurrta and Ruffwear items.
The Sweater is also useful as an extra cozy layer to put under a coat if it is particularly cold and it could be worn under the Hurtta coat to help minimise any possible snowballing in deep snowy conditions.
They also do a full trouser suit option which covers all the legs and the only areas not covered the bits that allow them to potty without it going on the fleece! This one is only available when ordered direct though, and care needs to be taken when measuring (before ordering I emailed the company my dog’s measurements to double check the size I needed). It is great for keeping your dog warm and also stops snowballs from gathering on their coat.
It can take a bit of practice to get used to putting it on, and for nervous dogs that are not keen on having to be manipulated into it then it would not be recommended. For old dogs with mobility issues and stiff joints, it would also not be suitable, although a bespoke version with an added zip on the top can be made at an extra charge by Equafleece to allow them to get into it more easily.
7. Euro Dog Designs Alaska Fleece Snood
In the extreme cold weather, especially if there is a wind chill, a dog’s head, particularly around their delicate ear area, can really feel the cold just like us humans can. In these extreme temperatures you may want to consider getting your dog used to wearing a dog snood. It may sound like overkill and, yes, in standard winter weather it is probably not needed for most dogs, but if you are doing a long hike in harsh conditions, it could help them to stay a lot snugger and more comfortable.
For some breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets, that have very fine fur and are much more susceptible to the cold than other breeds, they are often used in general cold, wet conditions to encourage them to get out and about.
The Euro Dog Designs Alaska Fleece Snood is a cozy option that comes in a number of different sizes to ensure a good fit and it also has a handy drawstring to help hold the snood in place well.
Other Handy Gear for Snowy Weather
8. Collapsible Water Bowl
On hot days it is rare for people to head out on a long hike without a water supply for their dog. Often people assume that dogs won’t get dehydrated in colder winter conditions. If your dog is out for a long time and is being very active then it is just as important to consider their hydration.
On hot days, it can be easier to find accessible water supplies, but in the winter they will often be frozen over or too difficult to access so, if you are on a long or particularly active hike then it is important that you carry water and a collapsible bowl.
9. Chuckit! Travel Dog Bed
If you are on a long hike with your dog on a wintry day, you may want to stop and rest at some point and maybe take the time to enjoy a flask and sandwich. Don’t forget to bring something for your dog to keep their energy levels up too, they can burn off a lot more calories in the cold weather conditions. Perhaps you will bring a little mat to sit on or fashion a cushion out of a coat to save you getting wet on the snow.
Your dog can get chilly when you stop too, particularly if you have them on wet, snowy ground. Bringing a water-resistant mat or bedding for them can help them settle for a bit without getting too damp or cold.
The Chuckit! Travel Dog Bed may be a good option as it packs away into a bag that is not too big and could fit in a rucksack or even hang from the side. It is not too expensive either, and if it is something that you would only use occasionally, there may be no need to opt for anything more fancy or costly.
It is big enough that it will work for most dogs, except perhaps the largest breeds, and it can also be used inside crates, for settling at a visitors house or when travelling overnight. It is versatile and easy to wash too.
10. K9 Sports Sack
If you are out on a long hike, across different terrain in wintry conditions, sometimes you can come across an unexpected patch of deeper snow. If you have a small to medium-sized dog, it could prove a challenge for them to negotiate through if it is too high for them. Even when the snow is not so high that it would come over their head, it can be tiring for a smaller dog having to work to get through deeper snow. If you are constantly having to pick them up to carry them, it can be exhausting for you too and not ideal if it is steep or icy conditions and you need poles for balance.
If you do still want to make sure you don’t have to leave your dog at home so they can enjoy the adventure too, then you could consider the option of getting them used to being carried in an appropriate doggy carrier for the more difficult sections.
The K9 Sports Sack is specifically designed for carrying small to medium breed dogs (it comes in different sizes depending on the weight of your dog). You will likely have to get them used to being in it (lots of treats and very short sessions in it initially), but it is a secure space, and it is more supportive and practical for longer use than a lot of dog carriers. Many carriers only cater for tiny dogs, but this can work for slightly bigger breeds too.
It is something you have to make sure your dog is comfortable being in and I would not recommend that they are contained in it for extremely long periods. It would be uncomfortable, and it is better for them to have the exercise and enjoyment on the ground. If they would have to be in the bag for much of the hike then it would probably be better just to leave them at home for this one. If it is only for short stretches or to give them a break if they are tiring though, then it is an excellent option to consider.