I regularly take my dog on a walk past a lake where he often splashes about. Will it be dangerous to take this route when it freezes over?

Since dogs do not appreciate the danger of scampering across ice, it would certainly be safer to take another route if the surface is likely to be frozen. Bear in mind that if your dog runs across here, and then falls through the ice, it will definitely be unsafe for you to follow and try to rescue it, particularly if you are on your own.

Should the ice not be strong enough to support a dog weighing perhaps 50lb (22.6kg), then it will certainly not be thick enough for a person to walk across it. You too could easily plunge into the freezing water, and rapidly succumb to hypothermia under these conditions, even if the water is quite shallow.

A number of today's popular breeds of dog such as the Labrador retriever and even the standard poodle were originally bred to work in water. Their coats are relatively water-resistant, they are powerful swimmers and even have webbed toes in some cases.

Not surprisingly therefore, they are actually far better equipped to get out of trouble than we would be, in similar surroundings. There have been a number of tragic cases over recent years where devoted owners have drowned trying to save their dogs, only for their pets to survive by their own efforts.