The Secret Dangers of Snow… That’s Right SNOW

Thanks to for the photo

Snow seems pretty innocuous does it?  Other than the obvious dangers of the cold temperatures that come with snow, it also comes with another danger you may not realize.

I am sitting here in Virginia writing this right now and it is 73 degrees out here right now!  But back in my hometown of Casper, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado their world is shut down due to a spring snow storm.

It is pretty normal to get our heaviest snow storms in March and April; the warmer weather with the moisture in the air makes for a very heavy wet snow.

Checking their weather, they have received 35 inches of snow with another 8 inches on the way by tonight!

Whereas I LOVE a good snow like this, I am pretty stoked to be enjoying the 70’s from Virginia and simply enjoying the pictures of carnage everyone is posting on Facebook (you have to love Facebook)!

The Danger I use to Put My Dogs in…

My Dogs Love Snow

My Dogs Love Snow

The few years of my adult life that I lived in my hometown, I had two Rottweilers and I lived for snows like these; I would put my coat, boots and mittens on put booties and coats on the dogs and head out for a walk.

I absolutely LOVE going for a walk and watching the huge snowflakes fall all around me.  I also love that snow makes everything look clean!  The way the snow covers everything and cascades down even the oldest dirties neighborhoods makes every place look like it came out of the pages of a book.

And, dogs love a good walk and of course the cold doesn’t bother them because they have fur; but what does put them at risk, is jumping through the snow banks.

I Use to Giggle at Small Dog Owners…

Dig Your Dog a Path

Dig Your Dog a Path

I use to giggle at small dog owners when they would shovel a path for their little dogs to go outside.  I thought big tough dogs didn’t and shouldn’t need a path shoveled out in the snow for them; but I was wrong.

I didn’t see the carnage of a snow storm on big dogs until I was working in Colorado as a vet tech.  We had gotten a couple of feet of snow, the airport and most all local stores were shut down and it wasn’t until we reopened that we saw the sheer number of dogs that had blown their knees or cruciate ligaments.

Big dogs bound through the snow, either on a walk or just to go out and play and do their business and this jumping can rupture the ligament in their knees.  It bounces and contorts their legs and joints in an abnormal way.

I guess it would be like if you had to jump from spot to spot, the risk of you rupturing your cruciate ligament would be significantly higher too!

After that snow storm we probably did a half a dozen cruciate surgeries and not only are they expensive, the damage is extremely painful as is the surgery and recovery.  One of the surgeries was a re-injury from about 3 weeks prior.

How Do You Keep Your Dog Safe?

Don’t take your dog for a walk unless the street where you are walking or the sidewalks are plowed or shoveled.

Shovel a path for your dog to use the potty.  I don’t care if he is the toughest dog on the block, save his body and his knees the jarring of having to jump through the snow.

And, although he might like to play in it, be very careful about the potential damage he can do to his body!

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  1. Gary Martin says:

    Good article and several other things about dogs & snow.
    Ice crystals form in between their toes and also their pads. Booties help and prevent injury. Dogs sweat from their feet too and standing on the snow forms the ice packets. Snow & ice crystals are abrasive and can cause severe open wounds if the dogs pads are soft. Take some advice from those who participate in sled dog races. There is also a cream that you can apply to your dogs pads to toughen them up.

    There are also hidden dangers UNDER the snow. Broken tree branches that can be like a spear, deep holes or sewer openings, broken glass, etc.. A heavy snow can and will hide all sorts of dangers.
    Working for the Forest Service in the Sierras, even I have “post-holed” and had a broken branch tear through my pants while hiking through snow not deep enough for snow shoes. My Lab loves to go out with me when I snowshoe, but he wears booties and we stay on the packed trails. I won’t take him cross country.


  2. ROGER WARD JR says:



    Minette Reply:

    Sorry somehow I clicked the wrong button 😉

    I think that a dog that is conditioned to living and running in snow and is also conditioned and physically lean is much less apt to injury although anything can happen.

    It is the overweight pets that are at more risk, athletes condition their bodies to the activitiy


  3. Tricia Gaitan says:

    Hey Minette! I think that this was a fantastic article! My little dog Stu, whos legs are only about 5 or 6 inches, always bounds through the snow. I never even stopped to think that this could be harmful to him! I do need to shovel paths this year for him because last winter i did not and taking him to do his buisness became VERY tricky!

    Thanks for another great article Minette!


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