This post was delayed thanks to the mild December we had! Seems perfect to return to this topic as we are thrust into dangerously cold temps this week. My own dog”Charlie” lasted only 30 seconds outside on a snow covered deck, without his boots on. The combination of freezing air temps and snow cover can cause frostbite on exposed paws quickly. Dogs that lift one or more feet, lie down or refuse to move while outside are experiencing major discomfort to their paws and should be brought in immediately. Elderly or ill dogs and those with short or sparse fur need to be watched closely. It takes only minutes for the effects of the frigid air to have an effect. Often times even dogs well equipped for extreme weather lose track of time, get distracted sniffing and are asking to come in long before they have done their business. We will have calls this week from clients whose dogs are having accidents in the house. I anticipate any number of accidents in the store, for the same reason. The only remedy for this is to watch your dog while they are out and make sure they have gone. If they haven’t, bring them in, let them warm up and try again. I don’t believe in tough love in these circumstances, it is far too dangerous for even the hardiest breeds. Resist the urge to punish! It will only create confusion and stress.
So how long is long enough? For the conditions we are going to experience this week, bitter cold and snow, just long enough to eliminate. If you dress your dog for the outdoors, better yet! “Charlie” is very focused in the cold. Once he’s suited up, boots and coat, he gets down to business quickly. The gear affords him the extra time to sniff and investigate. For those dogs needing exercise to stay sane , keep the outing short but tiring. A few tosses of the ball in the snow can take the edge off. I play fetch on carpeted areas indoors or toss treats down the hall way. I caution against off leash unless your dog is 100% on the “Come”. This is not the time to test the “recall”! A lost dog will be in serious trouble quickly with wind chills in the double digits. The snow cover can also make the scent trail home, harder to follow. If you see animals,outside, that are in distress because of the cold, please call our local humane officer at Lakeland Animal Shelter, and leave a message 262 723 1000
Keep your fur kids and yourselves safe this winter!