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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Some pets need outdoor protection

  • St. Bernards and Husky dogs will frolic in the cold and snow. Most other dogs — and cats — need some special care and consideration in the winter months.

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  • St. Bernards and Husky dogs will frolic in the cold and snow. Most other dogs — and cats — need some special care and consideration in the winter months.
    “Our weather here in the daytime is generally not too horrible,” said Dr. Mary Sue Painter, veterinarian. “Outdoor pets can handle more, and their coats will thicken if they’re outdoors a lot.”
    But she cautioned that even outdoor pets still need shelter.
    “The biggest thing is to keep them dry,” Painter said. “Most animals can accommodate if they have shelter from the rain and snow. Straw is good to put in dog houses. A lot of people use bedding, but that’s harder to keep dry and clean. Grass hays shouldn’t be used because they will set off allergies a lot more than straw will.”
    Mary Kay Caldwell, Southeast Humane Society president, said that dog houses should be placed so that the entrance opens on the south.
    “If you possibly can, put a tarp over and/or around a dog pen to shield the animal from the wind,” Caldwell said.
    She also endorses straw, and added that it should be “refreshed” weekly or a couple of times a month.
    When the temperatures dip to single digits or below zero, even outdoor dogs would probably benefit from spending the night in a garage or basement, Dr. Painter said.
    She added that indoor dogs who just go out for walks or potty breaks, especially small or slick-haired animals, will probably be more comfortable with  a coat or sweater when they go out into the cold.
    Cassidy Hop, for example, who resides with doggie “sister” Ruby Twozdey and human pet parents Peter and Cheryl Mayo, has a wardrobe including several sweaters and a raincoat.
    “She doesn’t really enjoy wearing clothes, but when she goes out and she’s not shaking from the cold, she does enjoy that,” Cheryl Mayo said.
    Another hazard is ice melt, salts and chemicals applied to sidewalks and roads to melt the ice.
    “Be conscious of ice melt and try to avoid walking your dog on sidewalks  with ice melt,” Dr. Painter said.
    Boots are available for dogs, and Mayo said they’re a good idea, if you can get your dog to wear them.
    “If you can’t get your dog to wear boots, then you need to clean its feet really well when it comes back inside, especially if it has walked on a sidewalk with salt on it,” Mayo said. “If your dog has short legs and is low to the ground, like Cassidy is, you should probably also clean and dry its stomach as well.”
    Speaking of stomachs, Painter recommends some additional calories — more food — for outdoor animals during the winter.
    Page 2 of 2 - “One thing we really need to stress is that pets still need water during the winter,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes they’ll even go for the water bowl before they go to the food dish. It’s important to check their water frequently and replace it when it freezes.”
    Also, she added, pets enjoy it if the water is slightly warmed.
    It’s best if the pet can face winter in good shape, with all its immunizations up  to date, internal parasites such as worms eliminated and, of course, varmints such as fleas under control.
    “Fleas may be less of a threat in the cold weather, but they will winter over with the pet, and they can hatch in a nice warm dog house, so you do need to see your dog or cat is protected against them,” Painter said.
    There’s one more piece of equipment a pet parent might consider having — a small shovel to take along when a small, finicky indoor dog goes outside for bathroom purposes.
    “If there’s an inch or more of snow, I have to shovel a place for Cassidy to go,” Mayo said.
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