It snowed in Oshkosh last night. Notice because I am an adult who is scared of driving in inclement weather there is no exclamation mark after the word snow. We only got about an inch, in comparison to last week Chicagoland getting slammed by a foot of the widow-making variety disgusting white stuff, but it’s still enough to remind us that our turn will come.
With the snow come questions about dogs and winter safety and questions. Do dogs need to wear coats and booties? Can thick-coated dogs like Huskies live outside? How much exercise do dogs need in the winter? Here are a few things I’ve heard and researched during my first year of being a dog owner.
- A potential adopter mentioned wanting a Husky or other heavy-coated dogs because she had no room for a full-time inside dog. She believed that such a dog could live outside because they’ll stay warm. Huskies, Great Pyrenees, and other thick-coated dogs appear to be better suited to snow and below zero temperatures than Chihuahuas and other small dogs. However, no dog, even a thick-coated breed is safe from frostbite or hypothermia. If you have a dog who spends a lot of time outside please make sure they have a heated place to sleep, access to fresh, unfrozen water, and talk to your veterinarian about how long your specific dog can safely be left outside.
- So, I have this dog who makes getting dressed for winter a game. It’s not a fun game for me. It’s easy to think that dogs don’t need booties because, well, they are dogs and their paws can’t freeze. Dogs don’t need boots because their paws can’t freeze. The cool thing about dogs is that the special circulatory system in their paws, unlike my husband who has fingers that turn blue, keep them from losing heat as quickly as human feet. Dogs still need protection. Whether it’s from excess cold outwitting their special superpowerr feet, protection from jagged ice and snow, or toxic salts, antifreeze, and other ice melters, as much as I hate to admit it, the booty game might need to start soon. If nothing else I need to wash my dog’s feet in warm water after a walk so he doesn’t lick yucky stuff off and possibly get sick or worse.
- When we decided to get a dog, well-meaning friends from Hawaii said since I had moved to the frozen tundra I might want to avoid a small dog if I wanted to play outside with my pet. Small dogs can play winter sports. My dog loves snow! He can do any and every winter sport I don’t do but that are enjoyed by my son and grandsons. Whether it’s this weird thing I learned about called skijoring, essentially cross-country skiing with your canine, or a long snow-covered hike, small dogs can have a blast outside. Just remember to check before to make sure there are no medical conditions that would make participating in extended exercise a danger. And as much as I hate saying this, Coconut and I might need to revisit that whole I’m a nudist dog thing, because the right winter gear is a must.
- To me, this doesn’t even need to be discussed, except it does. It is NOT okay to leave your dog in the car just because it’s not hot outside. When a dog isn’t running and getting their heart rate up extreme cold is an issue. And carbon monoxide poisoning can occur if a dog is left in a car with the motor running.
- The colder or snowier it gets the harder it is for us humans to have that same dog-walking excitement. Last April we had that freak twelve-inch snow storm and I still walked my little guy four miserable times. Dogs need exercise year-round! Correct winter wear will help both you and your furry friend. But if you can’t go on walks or play in the yard play games such as hide and seek, tug of war, dry food in a Kong or other food puzzle, and even day care are great ways to make sure your dog doesn’t end up with a winter spare tire.
NEW PAWSibilities has a pretty impressive array of booties, coats, and sweaters. Now is the time to come make your dog a winter fashionista because it’s super cute and affordable. Most items are $5.00 and if your dog outgrows something just bring them back in washed, useable condition for a swap.
We also offer seven-day-a-week day care by the full or even the half day. It’s a great way to get exercise and socialization while staying warm. And you get to go shopping or have a beer to keep warm. Just watch out for that wintertime spare tire.