Many dog owners enjoy dressing their pets in sweaters, coats and scarves, but canine winter gear is often more than a fashion statement.
Just as you need to bundle up when the temperature drops, your dog often does too.
How do you know if your dog needs another layer to stay healthy and warm during winter months?
Doggy, it’s cold outside
Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, says your dog will usually provide you with clues that he or she is cold.
“They might shiver, refuse to walk or move, or they may even hold one paw up above the ground to express their dissatisfaction with being outside in the wintry weather,” she said.
A dog’s ability to tolerate cold temperatures depends on several factors, including its health, size, breed and coat thickness.
Smaller dogs, as well as those with shorter fur — such as Chihuahuas and Italian greyhounds — are likely to get cold more quickly.
However, size isn’t always a good indicator of dog’s ability to tolerate cold temperatures. Pit bulls aren’t a small breed, but they have thin coats and can be sensitive to winter weather.
Breeds that come from cold climates and are bred to work in snow and ice, such as Newfoundlands and Siberian huskies, can typically tolerate very cold temperatures.
“If your dog is not a winter-hardy breed, has a thin coat, or has health issues, consider using a canine coat when she heads outdoors,” Murray said. “This will help retain body heat and prevent skin from getting dry and inflamed during winter walks.”
A dog’s routine should also be taken into consideration. If you’re letting your pet outside for a few minutes, he’ll likely be fine without winter gear, but if you’re going for a long walk or spending a while in the outdoors, winter gear may be a necessity.
Finding the right gear
If your dog needs a sweater or coat to stay warm, ensure the garment is a good fit so that it doesn’t drag, get caught on anything or prevent normal movement.
Have your dog try on the items, or measure your pet around the neck, around the largest part of its chest, and from the neck to the waist to choose the best size. The garment should fit snugly but allow freedom of movement. Look for pieces that can be easily taken off and on and that don’t have zippers, buttons or other items that can be chewed or swallowed.
Booties can help protect your dog’s paws from ice and snow, as well as minimize contact with painful salt crystals and poisonous chemicals from antifreeze and ice-melting agents. When it comes to selecting dog booties, look for ones that are insulated, waterproof and provide traction. Just because you have a large dog doesn’t mean he’ll require a large bootie, so measure the width of his paw to find the right fit.
But what about those fancy leggings?
There are also Walkee Paws stretchy dog leggings that cover your dog’s feet and legs with a connector that goes over his back. The leggings keep paws dry and clean in cold, wet conditions without fitting tightly around his ankles.
If your dog isn’t comfortable wearing booties or leggings, you can massage petroleum jelly or a pet-friendly paw wax into his paw pads before going outside.
“After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove ice, salt and chemicals, and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes,” Murray said.
Of course, owning a coat or booties won’t do any good if your dog refuses to wear them. If you live in a cold climate, start training your dog to tolerate the items from an early age. Also, reward your dog with a treat or a favorite toy when he wears the items.
Even if your dog is outfitted for winter weather, Murray says you should still limit your pet’s time outdoors and look for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
Frostbitten areas may appear pale or gray in color and be painful or hard to the touch. Frostbite is most likely to occur on the nose, ears, scrotum or tail.
Well it seems as though we owe Dr. Louise Murray a vote of thanks for articulating what makes best practice.
Whether you’re on board with celebrating a “traditional” Valentine’s Day this year—chocolates, cards, romance—or not, this year should be the year we also show some extra love to the animals in our lives. Whether we focus on our own companion animals or forgotten creatures out there in the world who also need compassion, this Valentine’s Day could be the start of a new tradition. Here are a few ideas to really bring the love to our furry and feathered friends this year:
1. Plan a trip to an animal sanctuary
Animal sanctuaries are wonderful places to visit solo, with your partner or with the kids. Most, if not all, states have at least one farmed animal sanctuary where pigs, cows, goats, chickens, geese, horses and many others have found a permanent home after being rescued on the way to slaughter or from their terrifying lives in the animal industries. There are few ways to connect with an animal and appreciate all they have been through in their lives that shine brighter than spending time petting a goat or cuddling a pig.
There are also other types of sanctuaries open to the public with different types of animals to behold, such as bats, tortoises, exotic birds, wolves and wild cats. The difference between reputable and respectable animal sanctuaries and zoos is, in many cases, the dedication to the animals’ needs. Some zoos may have great conservation programs, yet any profit-driven establishment who puts animals on display in unnatural living environments and social groupings does not have the animals’ true interests at heart. Sanctuaries strive toward giving the animals the best lives they can have—public observation is not at the heart of the matter. By supporting reputable animal sanctuaries, you are showing immense love and compassion to animals.
2. Dine on a meatless meal
To have a truly animal-friendly Valentine’s Day, don’t serve any of them on your plate! By choosing to dine on a plant-based meal full of fresh vegetables, hearty legumes, sweet fruits, wholesome grains and satisfying nuts and seeds, you are showing the animals the utmost respect. Try these Valentine’s recipe ideas, ethical wine suggestions and delicious vegan chocolate truffles for the big day! And, if you are interested in reducing the amount of animal products you consume beyond V-Day, visit the Meatless Monday website to learn how to tip the scales gradually toward regular vegan meals.
3. Reach out to an animal in need
Do you have a friend who could use a dogsitter for an upcoming trip? Does your local animal shelter or adoption agency need an extra hand with walking the dogs, cleaning cages and spending time with furry friends? Have you spoiled your own companion critter lately with a new toy, extra play time or some homemade treats? Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to extend our love to our own companion animals and to those around us who also need a little extra love. The rewards from reaching out to a pet in need are tenfold what we expend putting forth the effort. Use this February as an excuse to spend more time with some critters!
Dogs have lived alongside us for thousands of years, earning the reputation as “man’s best friend” for good reason. But while some people may be quick to dismiss a dog’s devotion as simply a relationship based on need, experts say that’s just not true.
“Dogs have developed the strongest ability of all animals on Earth to form affectionate bonds with humans,” says Dr. Frank McMillan D.V.M., director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, an organization helping adopters find loving companions. “Dogs don’t just love us — they need us, but not just for food and physical care. They need us emotionally. This is why the attachment bond a dog feels for his human is one of deep devotion and is, as has been often stated, unconditional.”
But how exactly does a dog say, “I love you”? Read on to find out.
Your dog wants to be close to you.
If your dog is always in your lap, leaning against you or following you room to room, it’s clear your pooch is attached to you.
“A dog’s affection is most evident in their desire to be physically close to you. This can sometimes appear to be a clinginess, and it isn’t always easy to distinguish healthy positive clinginess from insecurity, but in both cases your dog is deeply attached to you,” McMillan says.
Your dog gazes into your eyes.
When you and your pup share a long look, your dog is “hugging you with his eyes,” according to Brian Hare, a professor at Duke University who studies canine cognition, and research shows that this “hug” has a profound effect on both man and animal.
When scientists at Japan’s Azabu University took urine samples from dogs and their owners before and after 30 minutes of interacting, they found that the pairs that spent the most time gazing into each others’ eyes showed significantly higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, the same hormonal response that bonds us to human infants. “It’s an incredible finding that suggests that dogs have hijacked the human bonding system,” Hare told Science.
Your dog excitedly greets you.
Does your pup jump up, wag his tail and barely seem able to contain his excitement when you arrive home? If so, that’s a sure sign of affection.
“This becomes even more obvious when your dog learns, like Pavlov’s dogs, that some sound signals your upcoming arrival, like the garage opener or sound of your car, and they show excitement upon hearing that sound,” McMillan says.
Your dog sleeps with you.
Dogs are pack animals that often huddle together at night for warmth and protection, so when your dog snuggles up with you, it means he considers you to be part of the family. And these canine cuddles may even help you get a better night’s sleep.
You are your dog’s safe haven.
“Much affection in animals and humans is based on how much you can be relied on as a source of comfort and support in scary situations,” McMillan says. “If your dog seeks your comfort during thunderstorms, car rides, vet visits or other frightening occurrences, then you are seeing another aspect of her attachment bond to you.”
Your dog ‘reads’ you and reacts accordingly.
A close bond with your dog may enable him to sense your mood and respond with affection. “Many dogs who sense that you are upset or not feeling well will demonstrate their affection by spending even more time by your side. They might give you licks or rest their head or paws on some part of your body,” McMillan says.
Your dog yawns when you yawn.
If you’ve ever yawned after witnessing another person’s yawn, you’re aware how contagious the act can be. This contagious yawning is unique to only a few species, and man’s best friend is one of them.
Researchers have even found that not only are dogs more likely to yawn after watching familiar people yawn, but also that dogs will yawn when hearing only the sound of a loved one’s yawn. So if your canine companion yawns in response to your yawns, odds are good that his affection for you enables him to empathize with you.
Your dog focuses on you.
It’s not unusual for dogs to delight in positive attention from virtually anyone, but just because your pooch loves on everyone, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you most. Pay attention to how your dog acts when in a room full of people. If he stays focused on you or ignores others while awaiting your return, you know you hold a special place in your dog’s heart.
Your dog forgives you.
“Part of the affectionate feelings your dog has for you shows up in their willingness to forgive you for things you do that make them feel bad, such as raising your voice, or misplacing your frustration on your dog by ignoring them,” McMillan says. “Forgiveness is your dog’s attempt to maintain the loving bond they share with you.”
However, even if your canine best friend doesn’t show affection in these ways, it certainly doesn’t mean your pooch doesn’t love you. Just as some people can care deeply without expressing their feelings, so can your pup.
“Be sure not to go through the list above and think that because your dog shows very few or even none of these things, he or she doesn’t love you. Odds are, love is very much there. After all, we’re talking about a dog here,” McMillan says.
And how can you show your dog some love? Engage in playtime, take a long walk, bake some yummy dog treats, or give your pup a homemade toy. Above all, McMillan says the best thing you can do is simply give your dog more of you because that’s what man’s best friend wants most of all.
As humans animals can be also friends. If animals live together they became often friends. Friendship between different species can be cold as unlikely animals friendship. In this you can see friendship between dogs and cats, Lion tiger and bear friends, Baby Chick and Chihuahua best friends, cat and own friendship etc.
So many loving relationships! So many lessons for us to learn from our dogs!