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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College Station, Texas: Don't Take Strong Winds Lightly
Winter in College Station, Texas, is relatively mild, but for Michelle Crews' two mixed-breed dogs, Max and Peter, wind chill can make the temperature feel a lot colder. "It can get pretty windy out here, and when it does, I let them into our unattached garage by propping the door open just enough for them to get in," Crews said.

Max and Peter have their own dogs-only couch in the garage, and Crews keeps the garage toasty by running a space heater for a short time in the morning before she leaves for work. "Of course, I keep the heater far away from anything to prevent a fire, and I never leave it on when I'm not there, but it warms things up for them on cold mornings." Crews also throws towels in the drier and drapes the warm towels over the couch to create a warm sleeping spot.

Missoula, Montana: Don't Stay in the Dark
Winter in Montana can be rough, especially for John Engen's Greyhounds, O'Malley and Maxie. "Malley has really no hair at all on his chest, rear end and legs," Engen said. "It's just exposed skin. I would never leave either of them outside any longer than I would leave a baby out there."

Darkness is another problem. "It gets dark around 4:30 or 5 p.m. in the winter, and because we both work, it's really hard to find a good time to walk them,'' Engen said.

When darkness falls before dinnertime, owners may pay less attention to their dogs. "Dogs don't get as good observation from their owners when it's dark," said Dr. Pruyn. "The owners stay inside and watch TV, and if they have outdoor dogs, they won't notice if the dog isn't eating or is behaving in a way that isn't normal. You need to make a concerted effort in the dark winter months to pay attention to how your dog is doing."

Darkness and snow also reduce visibility. "We have a lot of dogs hit by cars here in western Montana," Dr. Pruyn said. "I recommend always keeping your dog on leash at night, using reflective gear and doing anything possible to make your dog more visible."

No matter where you live, from sunny California to icy New York, it is important to prepare for winter. But with planning and these tips from dog owners, it can be a safe, fun and cozy season for you and your pet.

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