Dogs and cold weather

belted-dogsSo, the weather is getting colder. Dogs, like us, can acclimate to the weather change and handle it well. Especially when walking. Leaving your dog tied up outside is another thing, and they would need the proper shelter in order to survive our cold Illinois winters. I, personally, don’t like the idea of leaving dogs outside, unsupervised, for a long time (or overnight especially! BURR) but my dogs do get used to the cold and enjoy an afternoon playing outside on those more mild sunny days. But even on the most frigid days we are out there walking. Our dogs can tolerate any weather we can tolerate. The only thing I’ve noticed is that at 10 degrees above zero, something happens with the salt and the cold, and my dogs’ feet seem to start to burn. I know this because above 10 degrees they walk normally but below that magic number they start to pick up their feet in a way that seems to suggest they are really hurting. If I had the luxury of sidewalks I’d use them, but where I live there are no sidewalks so we walk on the street.

So, I have a rule – no walks if the weather gets below 10 above zero. When it gets that cold I don’t want to be out there either and so we do more inside. A treadmill walk is wonderful and you can find many used ones on Craig’s List. I put my guys on the treadmill for 25 minutes each (while I knit!) on those freezing cold days. But any other day, they and I are out there for our full walk. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll come to tolerate the cold. Just wear something over your face and head and good boots on your feet. And also, pay attention to your dog. She may have a higher sensitivity to cold or her feet may be more tender. Then my dogs. If that is the case, you may have a different “cut off” number than I do.

muttluks dog bootsAlso, there are dog booties out there to help protect more sensitive feet. My favorite are called Muttluks and can be found at Amazon. They are sturdy, stay on great, and last. Don’t go with cheap dog booties if you are really looking for something to stay on your dog’s feet and keep them protected from the salt and cold. These boots really work. Yes they are more pricey but I walk my dogs every day and I had a set that lasted, sadly, longer than the dog who wore them. My guys now spend so much time outside all year round that they have tougher feet than my dear Sadie did, living in the city with me. But she loved her boots and wore them easily. The Muttluks website has a list of frequently asked questions that explain how to size your dog’s feet and how to acclimate them to wearing the boots. And you will have a good long laugh when you put them on your dog’s feet – my dogs both lifted their feet VERY high into the air and walked very deliberately when they first had them on!! Very funny.

So, don’t worry about the cold weather that is on the way – just keep walking and you and your dogs will get used to the cold together. And wear the proper gear and everyone will be happy!

October 13, 2009 • Tags: , , , , • Posted in: advice, dog ownership, essentials, recommended products, work your dog

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