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safety 101 by Sean Drummond

Sure He Has a Fur Coat, But is Your Dog

Prepared for Winter?

It’s easy to let Fido’s fitness slide during the winter months when evening walks are less of an enjoyable routine and more a test of bodily fortitude. But our dogs need just as much exercise as we do in the winter. Though winter here in the Triangle seldom brings below-freezing temperatures, it’s important to be mindful of conditions that can make outdoor activity uncomfortable or unhealthy for our four-legged friends.

Even before the threat of inclement weather comes to the Triangle, it’s important to remember that your dog’s visibility to drivers can be an issue as winter days - and especially evenings - become darker and grayer. During winter walks keep your dog at your side between you and the curb and you may want to purchase a reflective collar for use on those drab winter days.

It’s a common assumption that the cold of winter is less harmful to dogs than the heat of summer, but extreme temperatures of either kind can lead to illness. A dog’s sensitivity to the cold depends on the dog’s size and type of coat - larger dogs with thick or longer coats are less susceptible to cold temperatures than small dogs with shorter and thinner coats. Of course, this rule of

36 Volume 2 • Issue 1 T The Triangle Dog

thumb has its exceptions such as large dogs with very little body fat, like Greyhounds.

Older dogs of any size and coat can be afflicted with stiff joints during cold temperatures and may need to slow their pace. If you have a dog that doesn’t tolerate the cold because of their size, coat or age, try putting a sweater on them for those winter walks. And remember to keep your dog well hydrated - even though it’s cold, your dog still needs the same amount of water that they would normally drink.

As appealing as those bodies of water are, try to keep Rover from drinking out of puddles during your walk as these can be tainted with antifreeze, ice-melt or other chemical run-off. A regular diet is also important for winter exercise because a dog will expend more energy in maintaining their body heat.

Extreme conditions like hypothermia can be life- threatening for dogs, but simple attention to your dog’s behavior can alert you to trouble. Shivering, whining and burrowing are all signs that your dog is too cold and needs to be taken

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