This article was originally published on: PetSittingMKE.com Who specializes in Walks, Check-Ins & Potty Breaks for pups in the Milwaukee, WI area. She also has options for Slumber Parties & Overnight Fun.
When I tell people my profession, they are often amazed for many reasons. Usually, a ton of questions follow; "How many dogs do you walk at once?", "How many miles do you walk every day?", and "How (the HECK) do you walk in the winter?... Wisconsinite's know what I'm talking about. Those -30F days are brutal, but after a few years of walking dogs, I've learned to stay fully equipped during each season with my favorite walking essentials.
Ice Traction Boots
Snow cleats, snow grips, or winter boots with traction are a must when walking dogs in cold weather. For any dog with the desire to chase leaves, squirrels, or those who need a little leash training in the "pulling department," traction is important. Instead of sliding on the ice or in the snow, I also found it important to get a higher boot covering above my ankles. This way, I can avoid snow getting into my boot when stepping in snowbanks to clean after dogs.
Gloves - Mobility & Warmth
I'm more of a mitten girl myself, but gloves are the superior choice when it comes to walking dogs. I made sure to find a glove that would keep my fingers warm while also allowing me the mobility to grasp leashes and clean up after my pups. Besides, I also wanted to use my phone and apple watch during my walks to take photos and accurately track our walking routes through our pet sitting software.
"Completely waterproof, breathable and windproof, the men's Sealskinz Waterproof All-Weather insulated gloves feature goatskin leather palms for natural feel, comfort, durability and control.
Pet Friendly Ice Melt
Most ice melting salts or sands contain chemicals that can be hazardous and harmful to your pet's health. Using a pet-friendly salt alternative can save your pets' paws and stomachs if ingested. "Imagine an ice melt you can put down and never worry about. It won’t harm animals or children, and it won’t damage your property. That’s Safe Paw. Unlike anything else on the market, Safe Paw can change how winter affects our planet."
Walking Belt (+shorter leash)
I use a walking belt year-round, and it is very "handy" (no pun intended) when carrying many things or keeping my hands warm. In the winter, my hands are constantly freezing, so to free up a hand, I use a walking belt around my waist - this way, I can put one hand in my pocket for some extra warmth! Avoid your pup stepping over his leash by using a shorter leash connected at your waist for extra support. You can even clip your poop bag holder and treat pouch directly to your belt for easy access.
Gloves are great, and winter boots do wonders, but if you're seeking a "quick fix" to your cold-weather discomforts, try Hot Hands. HotHands Hand & Toe Warmer packs are my kryptonite in cold weather. Even with the warmest clothing, I often find myself using these compact warmers in negative degree weather. My favorite part? They last anywhere from 8-12 hours (depending on the type that you buy!) That means, if you're not walking dogs all day, like me, you might be able to use your early morning hand warmer during your lunch and dinner walks as well!
I'm the type of person that wears scarves all year round. When the time comes for negative degree weather, I love breaking out my scarf with a built-in baggy holder. Maybe not the most trendy item, but when it comes to being practical and staying cozy during mid-west winters, I'm happy to take function over fashion.
"The best way to keep warm during those harsh winter potty breaks! The BigWalky Scarf has a poop bag dispenser, zipper pocket (to hold those tasty treats), and an additional all-purpose pocket. Now your pup won't be the only one rushing to the door."
Ponytail-Ear warmers & Neck warmers
If you have a head of full hair, like mine, I'm sure you understand the struggle of winter hat season... if you wear your hair down with a hat, your hair freezes and starts to get wet with snowflakes making your neck cold, wet, and sweaty. Your hair blows every which direction making it difficult to see and remove your hand from your * very warm * pockets to get your hair out of your boogery face every thirty seconds. The alternative? Putting your hair up and risking a chilly neck and freezing ears. NOT ANYMORE! Ear warmers with holes for your ponytail or topknot have become game-changers.
Though you might be using a pet-friendly ice melt, it's not guaranteed that your neighbors are doing the same. Dog booties can be found at any pet store and come in various shapes, sizes, and various purposes. During the winter, rubber booties may guarantee that your pup's paws are suffering from the salt, but their pads may get cold pretty quickly. I recommend using a boot that's a little stronger and can protect from the cold, just as well as the ice-melt.
Doggie Doo Clips
Besides keeping hand warmers in my gloves and keeping another hand in my pocket- the Doggie Doo Clip is a LIFESAVER during those windy walks and snowy strolls. Avoid holding onto the poop bag by conveniently clipping it to your leash and keeping the "doo between you two." Plus, they are always adding new styles, breeds, colors, and patterns! The perfect howl-iday stocking stuffer.
Wool high socks
Wool socks are the best at keeping your feet warm, dry, and sweat-free throughout the winter. I love wearing high socks to ensure that my ankles are protected from any deep snowbanks I may have to step into. Smart wool is one of my favorite brands, feeling lightweight and protected.
Mushers creates a “dense barrier” from harsh ice-melt on your pups' paws by creating a lightweight bond to the pads of your pup. Made with natural dog wax, Mushers was originally created for winter use but is also used by owners during hot summer months on the scorching pavement! A little goes a long way; just apply before your walk, and wipe your pups' paws when returning from your walk.
Musher's Secret Paw Protection Wax
Don't forget your mask!
Not only is it courteous to wear your mask in public to protect yourself and your neighbors from the spread of Covid-19, but it can also double as a face warmer. I am not making this up! Wear your face covering to protect yourself during the flu season and the frigid temps.