K9 Corner, Jan. 2

Published 8:29 am Tuesday, January 2, 2018


We have just endured some cold weather and real winter is waiting in the wings. Dogs can usually endure cold dry weather for short periods without extra protection while they exercise and relieve themselves, but cold, wet weather is another matter.

Dogs are not like polar bears with dense, water repellent fur. Most dogs have been bred to live an indoor/outdoor existence. A few breeds, such as the northern sled dogs, are capable of curling up in a snow bank and sleeping soundly, but even they would probably elect to spend the night in a drier, less frigid environment.

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How can we protect our pets from the elements? First, when you take your dog for a walk in snow, be sure to wash or at least towel dry his feet when you return home. There are several advantages to taking the time to clean his feet: first any chemicals spread to dissolve snow and ice will irritate or burn the pads, and if the dog licks his paws

and ingest the chemicals he might get sick. Secondly removing the chemicals, ice and dirt will protect your floors and carpeting. A few minutes is a win-win situation.

The second way to protect your dog from the elements is provide a coat or jacket. Now I have been scouting the market for a snowsuit for a small ten pound breed. In my search I have discovered that coats and chew toys are in all different designs and styles for medium and larger dogs, with a few for the giants and practically none advertised for

the small or toy breeds. Only by calling one company and asking if they carried a snowsuit like the one advertised (modeled by a Doberman pinscher), that would fit a toy breed, did I find what I was looking for.

When I was ordering this coat, it was suggested that I apply a water repellent before using it. I would recommend this procedure with any coat purchased since a wet coat will chill the dog instead of protecting him.

There are many different styles to choose from. Some have legs, some are lined with fleece, some are advertised as “bodysuits,” and some are waterproof. Consider your dog’s needs and select a coat that will protect him as he plays or walks in the snow.

Most of the coats advertised are similar to horse blankets, they cover the back and chest front but the belly is left exposed. I prefer the coats that are designed to cover the entire chest. In deep snow my dog has to jump with each stride and, although he loves to jump, I like to keep him in cleared areas because of his age. If he does play in the deep snow, his chest contacts the snow with each stride unless his coat covers that area. Most sweaters cover the entire chest, but may not be sufficient to keep him warm.

Just some thoughts if you are thinking of selecting a coat for your pet.