Hot dogs in cold weather, keeping canines warm
SUMMIT COUNTY There is nothing about a Summit County winter that would entice Snoopy to sleep on top of his doghouse. Local canines are forced to build character over the winter months, but there are several supplies and techniques that can be used to ensure they enjoy winter just as we do. With wind chills often breaching subzero temperatures, dogs can be burdened by the cold more than humans. Your dog will begin to communicate his discomfort with the falling temperatures by quickly lifting up its paws, over and over again. Through this body language, the dog shows that the ground is cold and that there may be snow and ice stuck in its paw. However, according to Nancy Ring, executive director of the Summit County Animal Shelter, “Some dogs are more stoic to showing they are cold.” The dogs with more pride may be cold before the owner is aware. In order to prevent extreme cold and even frostbite, dogs should not be kept outside for very long and a solid doghouse that fits the dog should be provided. “The biggest mistake people make is they build the house too big,” said Ring. “The house needs to be small enough so that body heat can be retained.” When building or buying a house for your dog, there should only be enough space for the dog to walk in, turn around and lay down. And Ring added, “Dogs really shouldn’t be tied down to a doghouse.”The best material to build a doghouse with is any kind of wood, which is a better insulator than metal or plastic. The popular “dogloo” structure is less effective at keeping your dog warm than a solid wood house, but does provide a shape that eliminates excess moisture on the house. Adding wood shavings to the floor of any shelter can help with insulation. Raising the house slightly off the ground can also help retain temperatures.Another issue to be aware of in cold weather is a dog’s water supply. It doesn’t take long for water to freeze in subzero weather and dogs need liquid water at all times.In addition to a warm and insulated doghouse, there are several winter accessories created to help dogs adjust to adverse weather. Pet stores around the county provide stylish boots, fleeces, coats, sweaters and even paw wax to help dogs look and feel better in the cold. “Below zero, dogs should wear boots,” Kathy Keedy of the Breckenridge Barkery said. “The boots have a rubber soul which provides traction and help keep snow and ice from building up in the paw,” she said.In addition to the boots, the owners of more extreme dogs can purchase a wax product by the name of Musher’s Secret.”They actually use this in the Iditarod,” Keedy said. The wax can be used to prevent damage of all kind to the paws. A dogs comfort level in extreme weather depends on its individual breed, health and age. Shorthaired breeds should not be left in the cold for extended periods of time, while Siberian huskies are built for subfreezing temperatures. Also, a healthy dog will do better in colder weather than an unhealthy dog. When the temperature drops to extreme levels, even longhaired dogs are subject to the same risk of frostbite that human beings face and should not be left outside except to help fertilize the snow.
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