How to keep you and your pet safe while dog walking in the dark

Since the clocks have been going back recently, we are faced with shorter days and darker evenings.

In fact, you’re lucky to get home from work before sunset.

But just because it’s dark doesn’t mean we can’t go for a walk, but there are dangers to be aware of, such as:

With these dangers in mind Vets now has put together some tips to keep you and your pup safe when out and about in the dark.

Tips for you:

  • Always carry a flashlight. Or even better, wear a headlamp, because this way you have your hands free.

  • Wear light colored clothing. It is equally important to wear a light-colored coat, ideally one with reflectors.

  • If you want to take your dog on a new route, try it in daylight first.

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Tips for your dog:

  • Reflective equipment. In addition to reflective collars and leashes, put on reflective strips on the legs. If your dog wears a coat, you can also buy one with reflective patches.

  • LED lights. These lights are now lighter and brighter than ever and the batteries last much longer. The clip-on versions can usually also be charged via USB.

  • LED collars. These can make it much easier to find your four-legged friend in the dark.

What to look out for:

  • Other dogs. Meeting other dogs is more of a problem in the dark. So if your pet is nervous, it is probably best to keep them on a leash or in sight.

  • Other people. See joggers on trails and cyclists on bridle paths.

  • Potholes and other objects. Watch out for broken glass and other sharp objects that can injure your dog’s feet. Lively dogs may also try to jump over fences or walls and may not be able to see the depth or drop on the other side or other hazards such as barbed wire.

  • Cars and other vehicles. Traffic accidents are a common cause of emergency room visits, especially during the dark.

Did you know that dogs can see much better than we can in poor light and that’s why:

  • Your pupils are bigger, so let in more light

  • They have more rods in their retina and these are designed for low light

  • They have a tapetum behind the retina that reflects the light back again, so technically they see twice as bright

  • For these reasons, walking your dog in the dark is not a given. Your dog may spot something you can’t see and run away in search of it. It is often these unexpected surges in speed that lead to an accident.

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