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|Would you ask your best friend to sleep out-of-doors http://www.cowboysauthenticofficialonline.com/authentic-zack-martin-jersey.html , naked, in the coldest months of the year? For many family dogs, that's exactly what the coming winter has in store. A few simple decisions from you, though, can make wintertime healthy and fun for both you and your pet.
Indoors and Out
The most important decision you will make is where your dog will be spending the season. Many dogs live for most of the year in an outdoor shelter or doghouse. Whether your dog is staying out or moving indoors for the season, a few preparations are in order.
Before you move your dog inside, prepare a space for him. Dogs have a powerful den instinct, and having a dedicated sleeping area puts them at ease. Use an open dog crate, or pen off an area of your home with pet gates. Provide an appropriate bed or mat and access to food and fresh water. Your dog's den doesn't have to be fancy--a corner of the basement or laundry room will do--but it should be clean and dry, with adequate lighting and ventilation. Keep the temperature comfortable, but not too warm; your dog has that built-in fur coat, and his comfort zone will be a few degrees cooler than yours. Keep garbage, houseplants http://www.cowboysauthenticofficialonline.com/authentic-xavier-woods-jersey.html , and breakables out of reach.
If your dog will be wintering outside, make sure he has adequate shelter. Use a wooden-construction doghouse, or one made from heavy plastic. Choose a model with a raised floor, to insulate your dog's bedding from the cold ground. To avoid drafts, make sure any doorways are covered by a flap, and that the house is in a dry spot, out of the prevailing winds. If you feed and water the dog outside, change the water often so that it does not freeze, and only use plastic bowls; a dog's snout can stick to a cold metal dish as sure as a schoolboy's tongue to a frozen flagpole.
Provide plenty of warm, comfortable bedding. Consider a heated dog bed; many models come with timers, to reduce power usage. For a great "green" option, keep your dog stocked with a steady supply of hay, which makes an excellent insulator. Even a hot-water bottle can help keep your pet comfortable. Whatever you choose http://www.cowboysauthenticofficialonline.com/authentic-tyrone-crawford-jersey.html , it is vital to check the bedding regularly to make sure it is not wet or soiled. Wet bedding will actually draw heat out of your dog, leaving him vulnerable to hypothermia.
If you do not supply adequate shelter for your dog, he will go looking for it on his own, and may end up under a porch or deck, in a crawlspace or dumpster, or in some other spot where they may become trapped.
Frost Bites Dog
In dogs as in people, damage from extreme cold starts in the extremities. In fact, dogs lose body heat primarily through their ears and the pads of their feet -- so that cute dog sweater is not as helpful as it may seem. Keep a careful eye on your dog when you're out in the cold, especially in windy conditions; if he whines, shivers, burrows, or tries to curl up into a ball, it's time to come inside.
When you return from a walk outside http://www.cowboysauthenticofficialonline.com/authentic-tyron-smith-jersey.html , always take a few moments to make sure your dog's coat is dry and clean. If the hair is dirty or matted, it loses its insulating effectiveness. Your dog's coat will gradually grow thicker through the early part of the season. Keep him well-groomed, and limit his exposure to the cold until his winter coat has grown in fully.
Be cautious when walking the dog in icy conditions. A slip by one of you could end with both of you on the ground, and older dogs are particularly prone to injury from falls.
Paws for Thought
Your dog's feet are at risk from more than just the cold. The salt, sand, and chemical de-icers found on roads and sidewalks can chap the pads of his paws. And when he tries to lick them clean, the chemicals can irritate his mouth and digestive tract. Get in the habit of wiping his feet with a warm damp washcloth when you come in from a walk, to remove any residual salt. Protective booties can help, too.
A Long Winter's Nap
Your dog's activity level will probably change during the winter months, although different breeds and individuals will respond differently. Small and short-haired breeds will likely spend more time curled up asleep in a warm spot, while heavy-coated working dogs like Huskies will be in their glory. Always consider your pet's overall health when taking them outside to play in the cold. Young puppies and elderly dogs are extra-vulnerable, as are dogs with medical conditions like kidney disease, diabetes http://www.cowboysauthenticofficialonline.com/authentic-troy-aikman-jersey.html , or hypothyroidism. Go particularly easy on older dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia; the cold will make them stiff and achy, which will make them even slower than usual, and they may need assistance with stairs.
Winter is hard on living things. But just a little extra caution and consideration can make the season a wonderland for you and your dog. Don't you owe your best friend that much?
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