Baby it’s cold outside! GoodGrandma℠ asked her brother, Mike Parsons with B98.7 FM Radio Station, again for his expertise on dog care. Mike educated us last summer on how to keep our dogs cool in the summer. Now, he is providing us with information on ways to keep our Furry Friends warm in the winter. THANK YOU, MIKE!!!
Dogs are social animals. They NEED interaction with others, even if that’s only with we humans; we are their “pack.” Leaving a dog outside for extended periods of time, even when the temperature is comfortable, can cause boredom and bad behavior in dogs.
During cold weather, there are several things to take in to consideration:
- STAYING OUTSIDE. Unless you own dogs that are bred and trained to be sled dogs, they need to be inside like we do. For the most part, our dogs are like us, they have acclimated to a certain comfort level when it comes to hot and cold. Just because they are covered in fur or hair, doesn’t mean that they are equipped for extended periods of time in the cold. In general, if it’s too cold for YOU to be outside for a long time, it’s too cold for THEM. There are many of variables that determine how long your dog can be outside in the winter: Breed, age, size and and overall health are all considerations.
- SHELTER. If your dog does needs to be outside for more time than it takes for a simple “potty break,” they will need some help. A shelter needs to be big enough for the dog to walk in and out of with an entrance 2-3 inches taller than the tallest part of the dog when they are sitting. The shelter needs to be big enough inside; The Humane Society recommends 36 square inches of floor space for every inch of the dog’s height, from the point of his shoulders to the ground. The entrance to the shelter should be off center, so that the dog can curl up in the corner and be out of the wind, and the entrance should face south or east. It’s also important that the shelter not be TOO big; think big enough, but cozy too. Your dog will also need some sort of bedding to keep them warm. Remember, the shelter is for sleeping and escaping weather conditions, not to live in.
- WATER. Dogs still need access to fresh water in the winter too. Try to position the water bowl where it will get the most sun and not freeze. (Rubbing a little petroleum jelly on the inside of their bowl, will make frozen water fall right out when you tip it upside down)
- NOT TIED UP. It is preferable for your dog to be in a fenced yard or dog run. Putting a dog on a rope or chain can endanger their health due to getting tangled, and studies have shown that being on a rope or chain for extended periods can make your dog more aggressive. A dog should NEVER wear a “choke chain” except during training.
- INSIDE AT NIGHT. Unless you own a Sheepdog, St. Bernard, Chow Chow or Siberian Husky, your dog should not be outside overnight in cold temperatures. Puppies and older dogs of any breed shouldn’t be outside overnight in the cold at all.
- FOOD. Dogs that spend any amount of extended time outside when it’s cold will need more food than normal. It’s better to feed them small frequent meals rather than a lot of food all at once.
- TOO COLD. While every dog will have a different level of comfort in the cold, anytime the temperature is under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, all dogs should not be outside for more than a few minutes at a time. For smaller and thinner haired dogs, 32 degrees is a good standard. In addition to the temperature, other things to consider are humidity level, wind and cloud cover.
- PAWS. Pay close attention to your dogs feet in the cold. They can develop cracked paw pads that can be very painful and some breeds can get snow and ice stuck between their toes.
- STAYING WARM. There are many options for coats, shirts and even hoodies. You dog may not like it at first, but they’ll appreciate it when it’s cold out. Have them wear it inside, when they are around you, so that they can get accustomed to it and so that you can see what potential problems there might be.
Your dog thinks of itself as a member of your family (or pack). They like to be with you and need social interaction. Too many dogs are left outside for long periods of time all year round. It’s especially important during cold weather to limit their time outside exposed to the elements. Treat them like you would want to be treated. They’ll be happier and healthier! Good boy!
Thanks again, Mike! We appreciate your knowledge on how to care for our Furry Grands. And, thanks for sharing the pictures of Finn. He’s a handsome fella.