I know this is a late article for this winter season. It is prompted as I look outside and watch the blowing snow. Also, as I drive in this weather I see the dogs chained outside, shivering in the cold. Some have dog houses, some don’t.

Our dogs have a doggy door. They can go out and come in at will. Of course, for Dexter, our Great Pyrenees, he is in Pyrenees heaven. He loves to lay in the deep snow and the blowing wind. Every now and then I toss a treat to him to let him know he’s okay. I called Dexter in the other day. He came to the door and sat down. I called him in again, he just sat there staring at me. I realized he was asking to stay outside. Of course I relented. Nekayah, our Catahoula, would rather be inside. Much of her staying inside is because she is a Service Dog and feels she is always on duty. In our Animal Care Board, of which I am Vice-president, it was reported to us that one of our citizens found their pet frozen.

It seems to me that the most untrained pet owner would have common sense. I know, that is expecting a lot, but anyone should be able to look at their pet, look outside, and draw an intelligent conclusion. Now, is your pet a St. Bernard, then it’s a no brainer, he will love this weather. But if your pet is a Toy Poodle, use your brain. These decisions not only need to be made in the winter time, but also in the summer. Which I will write about separate from this.

*When Fido goes outside to go potty accompany Fido or watch Fido through the window. If he is having a hard time walking the chill factor may be the problem. Don’t give him time to get frost bite. Frost bite for small dogs, or dogs that are accustomed to the inside, can happen more quickly than we think.

*For our dogs we keep a heated water bowl outside, as well as their water dish inside. We purchased our one-gallon, heated water bowl at Rural King for about $14.00. At Pet Smart the same item costs $34 to $45.00. It is important that they have “water,” not ice in their water bowl. Snow and ice are not adequate for their thirst.

*For those outside dogs, feed them extra. It takes a lot of energy for your dog to keep a proper body temperature.

*We generally have a large towel near our back door, especially for Dexter. A Pyrenees will lay in the snow, in a storm, until covered with snow. He loves walking through his doggy door and shake from head to tail. If you have even seen this you know it looks like a snow storm in the house. We tolerate this, just as he tolerates human things from us, i.e. hugs. Our towel helps us a bit if we can toss it over him. But, we make sure he is dried off as best we can, including his paws. This helps us in two ways. First, we are able to prevent tracking in. Second, if he has any cuts or splitting of his paws, we are able to find it and treat it early.  Remember, salt to melt ice can irritate paw pads. We also have a soft, long runner from their door. This can save yelling at your dog when he is just being a dog.

*We comb Dexter out when the “snow balls” melt. This helps maintains his insulation.

*Leaving your dog in the car in the winter time can be as dangerous as doing so in the summer. People do not realize that carbon monoxide can get inside of a running car, which is fatal. If the dog is in the car for a long time with the engine shut off, it can freeze.

*Allowing your dog to be in the garage or the repair shop is also not a good idea. Antifreeze is often on the floor. Ethylene glycol smells good and is sweet. A dog (or cat) will lick it from the floor, but it is lethal. Thousands of dogs die each year as a result. Ethylene glycol effects the brain, liver, and kidneys. If you think your pet got into some get it to a vet right away.

*We live near Ball State University. Not far from our house, on campus, is a beautiful, large pond. I need to be careful when walking my dogs. The pond can look like it is ice covered. This can be deceiving. If I would let my dogs venture out on it and fall through. Of course you would never venture out on it with your dog? Oh yes, many have done this and they went through the ice with their dog. Save you and your dog and don’t be foolish.

Well, those are some of my ideas to keep in mind for my Dexter and Nekayah. I think these might be some good thoughts for you and your pet also. If you see something different or out of the norm for your pet make an appointment with your vet. They can get sick just as we can. Y Dexter has some arthritis in his left shoulder. In this cold weather it gets worse. I make sure I have some pain medicine and anti-inflammatory for him to help keep it manageable.

Let’s keep our pets safe and comfortable.

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