Speaking of Pets: Here’s how to keep your dogs warm on cold winter days
We humans all love powder days, but sometimes pets aren’t the biggest fans of cold temperatures. Here are some ideas to keep your furry friends comfortable in Vail’s cold winters.
We often think that because dogs have nice furry coats, they’ll do just fine in the cold, but that’s not always true.
While dogs with long, thick, or double coats are generally cold-tolerant, short-haired dogs become colder faster because they have less protection. Putting a sweater or jacket on your short- or smooth-coated dog isn’t a bad idea when the weather turns truly frightful.
Short-legged dogs like dachshunds will become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are closer to snow-covered ground. Even breeds like huskies that are accustomed to glacial climate can develop frostbite and hypothermia if they’re exposed to below-freezing temperatures for long periods of time. So bundle them up – local pet stores will have great options that are both functional and adorable.
Be careful about those “ice-balls” that can form between your dog’s toes in the snow: They can be extremely painful, and can contribute to frostbite. And if you walk near roads that are treated with de-icers, be sure to clean your dog’s paws as soon as you get home: Some contain highly toxic chemicals dogs could ingest if they lick their paws. If you de-ice your own driveway, look for products labeled as pet-friendly.
Indoors or Out
Get a feel for your dog’s cold-tolerance. If your pup starts to shiver once the temperature falls below 55 degrees, you’ll probably want to avoid long winter walks.
Just like humans, older dogs, dogs with health conditions, and small puppies simply can’t regulate their body temperatures efficiently, so it’s best to keep them indoors. If you leave your dogs outdoors for the night, make sure they’re protected from the cold. Create a shelter that’s large enough for them to lie down comfortably, yet small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches and covered with cedar shavings, straw, or a thick blanket, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Ideally, though, you’ll be able to give your companions a place to sleep inside the house where they can be safe, warm, comfortable, and be exactly what they are: members of the family.
Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.