Cold Front for Dogs

Owners across the nation share their secrets to keeping dogs warm in winter.

By | Posted: Mon Dec 30 00:00:00 PST 2002

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Keeping your shorthaired dog under wraps even in mild weather is important, said Rich Avanzino, president of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Shorthaired dogs, very young dogs, elderly and sick dogs are particularly vulnerable even to mild fluctuations in temperature," he said. "Raincoats, sweaters and anything to keep the dog dry is important."

Winter rains are a concern in Florida. Prince said. "When it rains, my bigger dogs run around outside and play but not Ramirez," she said. "He'll run outside as fast as he can, do his business then dash back inside." His reward? "When it gets wet and chilly, I'll throw a blanket in the drier, then toss it in his crate. It's his 'treat.' He loves it!"

Glendora, California: Plan Ahead
Winter is the ideal time for dogs in this city near Los Angeles. Temperatures are cool; the plant life is green, lush and blooming; and owners enjoy being outside with their dogs more often. But California has its own wint er cautions. "One problem we have is with dogs going to winter resorts with their owners," said Rich Avanzino, president of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "When these dogs aren't kept on leash and don't have identification on them, they often get lost."

California dogs and their owners also may not be accustomed to snowy conditions. When Kim Martikan of Glendora first began hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains with her 4-year-old Golden Retriever, Roy, she was cautious. "I didn't know what to expect at first," she said. "One of the first things that happened was, after a really long hike, the snow actually wore Roy's toenails down and [his toes] started to bleed. After that I was careful to watch his feet and to carry along a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding."

Martikan also knows that taking a water bowl along for hikes is crucial.

"Dehydration is a serious problem in winter because dogs can't eat enough snow to keep hydrated," said Dr. Pruyn. "For those who live in colder climates, special water bowls or heating devices for water bowls will keep water from freezing. Make sure the devices are well made, safe and the cord is out of the way so your dog doesn't chew it."

Martikan also keeps a watchful eye on Roy on hikes. "I can't let him run the way I do in the summer," she said. "He could run off the side of a mountain and get stuck or stuck in a snowdrift or even cause an avalanche. Once he was running and he jumped onto a thin crust of snow and broke through into deep, soft snow beneath. He couldn't get out, and I had to rescue him."

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