By Katie Walsh
The Midwest is currently experiencing a historic, deadly cold, with temperatures diving far below zero. It’s so cold, in fact, that many colleges, schools and other organizations have shuttered for the duration. And with that, the dog lover in me can’t help but worry about all the poor pups who are being left outside for even a minute too long.
Many folks don’t make a distinction between dogs and wild animals. Dog sweaters and coats are seen as a vanity purchase by silly people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “It’s a dog! It’s supposed to be outside.”
But that attitude is incorrect. The truth is, if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s too cold for your dog.
It’s not quite as bone-chilling in the D.C.-area as it is in Chicago, but it’s still pretty miserable out there. While your dogs have to go out at some point, it’s important to take the proper precautions so they stay safe and healthy.
For starters, if you have hang-ups about dog sweaters and coats, it’s time to get over it. Dogs have fur, but that won’t automatically protect them from extreme temperatures. Certain breeds such as huskies or malamutes fare better in the cold, but most other breeds need some extra coverage. Dogs can get frostbite, particularly on areas like their ears, tails and underbellies. With my short-hair mixes, I always bundle them up in weather like what we’re experiencing now. You might even consider getting your dogs boots to help prevent frostbite on their paws.
If your dogs are like mine and refuse to wear boots, you could also invest in some paw protection. We use Musher’s Secret wax, which helps protect puppy paws against sidewalk salt. We also make sure to wipe the salt off their paws as soon as we get back inside.
And probably most importantly, when it’s a truly bitter winter day, you simply should limit your dogs’ time outside. Let them out long enough to do their business, and get them back inside. If you have the ability to do so, it might be a good idea to send your dogs to doggie daycare, even for a single day, to allow them to burn off some energy in a warm environment.
My dogs mean everything to me, and thinking about them or other dogs like them suffering makes me unbelievably sad. Please, do what you can to keep your dog safe while we hunker down and get through this polar vortex.