Winter 2023

Who wants to go for a walk?

Stay safe out on walks this winter

Walking is a low-intensity activity that has potential benefits of lifting moods, helping with fitness and weight, and easing the joint pain that so many people and pets experience as they age.

While January may have seemed a less-than-ideal pick for Walk Your Pet Month, even starting in winter can be enjoyable—if you and your pet have the right gear and the right attitude.

Get those legs moving together, and the joy you’ll both feel being out and about will help you make it part of your daily routine.

Baby, it’s cold (and dark) outside

Safe winter walking requires planning for both warmth and visibility—and that’s true for both you and your pet. You likely already have cold-weather gear if you live in snow country, but does your pet need snow gear, too? That depends.

Golden retriever smiling between mittens

Older and smaller dogs may need help staying warm, because they are less able to generate or retain enough body heat. Dogs with thin haircoats or lean body types—chihuahuas, whippets and greyhounds, for example—also benefit from the added warmth of a sweater in dry, cold weather or a lined jacket to keep them warm and dry when it’s snowing or raining. Large dogs with heavy fur—malamutes, collies and Bernese mountain dogs, for example—don’t need coats, but they’ll stay cleaner and dryer with a light, water-resistant slicker.

Boots aren’t a bad addition to any winter canine ensemble. They protect your pet’s paws from the cold and de-icing chemicals, which can cause irritation. Look for flexible boots with grippy soles that are easy to put on and colorful enough to spot in the snow if your pet loses one on a walk. Let your pet get used to them with praise and treats indoors. Go ahead, get some video—some pets are pretty adorable to watch while acclimating to footwear. If your dog won't tolerate boots, get some dog paw wax to protect those paw pads.

If you are walking during the dimmer hours near dawn or after dusk, added visibility will keep you safe from collisions with cars. A reflective vest and blinking bike lights tell drivers where you are at all times. For your pet, reflective vests, harnesses, leg wraps and leashes work well, as do blinking lights that attach to a collar. These are not just for winter—any low-visibility conditions call for safety gear, especially if you’re walking in areas without sidewalks.

Take the first step, together

You’ll need a leash and a collar or harness, and your dog needs to be comfortable with both before you start your daily walks. An untrained dog can injure you, and one who gets loose due to ill-fitted gear is in danger of being lost.

Woman in red beanie smiling while holding medium sized dog

Many dogs can be safely walked with a four- to six-foot lead and a collar or harness that’s appropriate for their breed and size. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best leash, collar and chest or head harness for your dog and provide recommendations on training and proper fit.

If pulling or other on-leash issues like barking can’t be curtailed, find a dog trainer for a group class or private lessons. If your dog is aggressive toward people or other pets, you may need the help of a veterinary behaviorist.

Even if your dog can’t always be trusted to keep his teeth to himself, walks aren’t out of the question. Such dogs can be trained to be comfortable in a basket muzzle, which allows dogs to open their mouths to pant, drink and eat.

Cats on the go

Many cats also enjoy an on-leash outing from time to time. However, keep in mind that cats will likely be leading you on the walk, rather than the other way around.

Cat in a sweater on a leash in the snow

The best choice for most cats will be a well-fitted, vest-type harness. Cats can usually wiggle free from harnesses designed for small dogs, so stick to models that are expressly designed for felines. Be sure to avoid any areas where your cat may be frightened to a panic, such as around dogs or near a busy roadway. Outdoor access should be closely controlled to reduce risks from infectious and parasitic agents, poisoning and exposure to wildlife and predators.

For all pets, be patient and slowly build up tolerance for on-leash activities. While it’s always a good idea to have your phone with you in case of an emergency, keep it in your pocket and give your full attention to your pet and your surroundings. You’ll both be safer—and you’ll enjoy the experience more.

Going for a walk? Show us your pet’s gear at @NationwidePet on Instagram. Use #OnYourSideMoments for a chance to be featured.

Free Will

They're part of your family. Make sure they’ll be cared for, no matter what, with a will. Nationwide can help you create your free and legally binding will in as little as 20 minutes today.

Create your free will
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet

Check out some of our other posts!

After hour experts on summer bummers

Summer’s here at last! From beach time to summer hikes, there’s a lot to do outdoors—and ...

Frozen summer treats for pets

Few things are as tail-wagging wonderful as a frozen treat on a hot summer day. These ...

How pets help improve our physical health

The pet-owner relationship is a unique bond that provides not only care and affection for ...

Does your dog need sunscreen?

Dogs can and do get sunburns, and some are more vulnerable to sun damage than others. But ...