In another ‘episode’ of Ask the Jug Dog, we have a weather-related question to do with exercising a dog…
I live in an area which gets quite a bit of rain but I don’t want my dog to lose out on exercise. Should I be taking my dog out even in the rain? I am worried they will catch a cold or something!
First of all, thanks very much for the question – we always appreciate being first in many people’s minds to help them with their canine problems. This question about taking dogs out in the rain is a common one and one we’re very happy to help answer.
Should I take my dog out in the rain?
Rain itself is perfectly harmless to your dog but they don’t like it. Unless they are in the rain for a long time or caught up in severe weather they will more than likely enjoy being out just as much as if it didn’t rain at all. Daily exercise is a crucial part of a happy and healthy dog and finding excuses to not take them is not a good thing. Despite that, you shouldn’t take your dog out in the rain just for the sake of it either so the part of the owner is an important one here to make sure you both get to go out prepared to enjoy it as much as you can, safely and cleanly.
When should I NOT take a dog out in the rain?
When it comes to rain and bad weather there are times when you should take them for a walk, shouldn’t take them for a walk and when a short walk to allow them to relieve themselves is enough. If the rain is not too heavy, your dog has a winter coat and not a puppy/elderly dog and there’s not much flooding and unsafe passages where you are heading then, by all means, enjoy yourselves. If the weather is stormy, there’s evidence of flooding and unsafe pathways with an anxious, elderly dog or a puppy then you should probably stay at home.
The main concerns with going out in the rain are getting wet, getting cold and unsafe pathways. If you have a dog with a good, healthy and thick coat then their oily coat will wash all the water away protecting their inner layer from getting wet and cold. If you have a dog with a thin coat then they will get wet and cold faster – so always consider how naturally equipped your dog is to naturally fend off the water. However, you can easily bypass this shortcoming by wrapping them up in a nice waterproof coat.
In regards to the unsafe pathways, it really does depend on the type of place you want to take your dog on a walk – if it’s an urban area then even after a storm there probably won’t be any obstacles but if it’s in a very rural area then you may find yourself surrounded by rivers which have burst their banks and dangerous mudslides. Be mindful of the route you’re going to take and avoid dangerous walks especially if your dog is off the lead. Too much water exposure can in very extreme cases lead to water intoxication but it would take an awful lot of rain for that.
As a rule of thumb, if the rain’s heavy enough that they will get soaked through then don’t take them out. If you’ve got a raincoat and they are showing signs of frustration then a short walk will do no harm.
If the rain’s not great but there’s a safe and perhaps sheltered area they can go to to do their business then make the most of it as they will be grateful and more relaxed when they get back in again.
How to prepare your dog for a rainy walk
If you’re like Sandra and you live in an area which gets perpetual rain then the best course of action is to accept your lot and prepare for the inevitable rain. Here are some handy tips to make the rain easier to handle
Invest in waterproof coats
A waterproof coat for both you and your hound can increase the time you can spend out in the rain without getting soaked. For you, the coat can pretty much completely cover you but for the dog, there’s always going to be somebody part sticking out so by no means will a waterproof coat make them immune to the water.
Check the forecast
Check the weather forecast for the day and pick a time where the rain is likely to have subsided or stopped completely. There’s no need to go out when it’s at its worst.
Go during the day
Go for the walk when visibility is at its highest. Rainy days can be grey days which can reduce visibility making spotting dangers harder. If your walk is in more rural areas this is more important.
Plan your route
Avoid busy roads where you and your dog can get splashed and avoid roads and footpaths are susceptible to flooding. Keep your rainy walk as safe and dry as possible.
We’d also recommend aiming to get to the spot where they can do their ‘business’ and then decide if it’s worth continuing the rest of the walk.
Keep them on the lead
It’s best practice in adverse weather to keep your dog on the lead so they can’t get into trouble. This is especially true if they’re going out in rural areas or in natural parks where there could be mudslides, rivers which have broken their banks with strong currents and other sorts of dangers.
To keep them on the lead look for waterproof harnesses which can work with the waterproof coat. If you’re going on a hike style walk then pack a dog tracker in case they wander off too much or escape somehow from the lead. A dog whistle could also be handy if they’re trained with it.
What to do when you’ve been hit with sudden rain/flash rain
Sometimes you may be out on walk and then bam! flash rain strikes and you and your furry friend are in serious danger of being drenched. There’s no an awful lot you can do but try and seek shelter immediately and try and wait it our. Flash rain rarely keeps going for too long so wait until it’s clear and then make a dart for home as soon as you can.
It’s important to stay calm and not try and tough it out unless you’re really close to home. Getting soaked wet through is something to really avoid especially if you’ve got a dog without a waterproof coat and a lack of meat on the bone.
What to do once your home
If you and your drenched pal have made it home, whack on the heating and get a towel to dry your dog off. This will help get their body temperature back to normal and cheer them up a bit. What we’d also recommend is to actually give them a bath as well to get rid of the nasty rainwater and other such undesirables from their coat.
Your dog will also probably feel a little bit down so cheer them up by moving their dog bed next to the heater, give them a dog treat for being so brave as well as a good meal of wet food and dry dog food to get some hearty in their bellies. This is similar to us eating chicken soup when we have a cold!