Hello Dog Lovers!
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2006! Health, play buddies, and goodies for the dogs.
It's been a while since my last post. We've been busy beavers... oops! pups since the holidays. We're beefing up our obedience training offerings and getting a speaker/special event schedule going for 2006. But I can't let any more time go by without talking about what mid-winter is like for our canine companions. To cut to the chase, it's not a great time. Some breeds like the snow, especially when it's fresh (like labs and goldens) but many have problems. And even the snow lovers bear watching in freezing temps.
In doggie daycare we notice that both small and large dogs pee and poop indoors more than in mild weather. Often we'll take everybody out to the yard for a while, then several guests will squat as soon as they come back in. One of the problems is that they get interested in playing in the snow and forget to do their business. Not much to do about that except to discourage the playing and praise them generously when they do perform. Another problem is that muscles tend to contract in the cold so the urethera and bowels kind of go on "hold".... as it were. Then in the nice warm indoors, they relax, and voila! We try to break up play as soon as it starts until the dogs perform - that is before they tense up with the cold. Also we give treats for outdoor performance when it's below freezing. The praise and treats tend to get the non-performers imitating the others.
During the mid-winter months, our groomers tend to see undiagnosed frostbite and/or dry, cracked toe pads. No matter the breed, dogs should not be outdoors for more than a few minutes in 20 degree weather, unless of course they wear Mukluks or other dog boots. You'll notice that Alaskan sled dogs are always booted - it cuts down on wear and tear and prevents frostbite during long mushes. Even if you're careful, though, your pup's pads are likely to dry out, partly from dry air and partly from the salt on sidewalks, streets, and parking lots. Fastidious owners who have time, clean their dog's feet after exposure to salt, but most of us probably don't. The best remedy is fast and cheap. Rub a good lubricant into pup-pup's pads - all 20 of them! We use vaseline and it works great. I rub it into Benny and Daphne's pads once a week when we're watching TV and they never have a problem in spite of extensive exposure to salt (and I'm not a fastidious mom, either).
Also, make sure to give your pup plenty of water, particularly after they've been outside. Cold dry air dehydrates them, and sometimes they need water even if they don't feel thirsty. I urge Benny and Daphne to drink fresh, just-poured water after we've been outside, and they usually bite - ur slurp, I mean. Once they taste the water, they realize they're thirsty.