By Robbi Hess ~ Managing Editor Pet Calendar, Crimeless Cat Executive Story Editor, Chief Cat Herder
December 21 marks the first day of winter. In New York, where I am writing this post from, however it has been very winter-like for the past month. We’ve had snow, sub zero temperatures, freezing rain and howling winds. It sometimes seems that New York doesn’t pay much attention to the calendar when it comes to the seasons!
In our household, my poodle, Henrietta, is not fond of the snow and cold — even if she is in a sweater. Our Goldendoodle, Murray, isn’t quite sure what he thinks about it — he seems ambivalent. Our cats? Well, three of them don’t like the outdoors even on a glorious summer day. My two Devon Rex kitties like putting on their harnesses and exploring on a warm sunshiny day, but they don’t have enough fur to go out in the winter and frankly, there is no reason for them to go out in the winter.
We had a dog, Spenser, who has passed, who loved the snow. He was a husky-lab mix and winter was his ideal season. He always seemed overly warm in the summer, but in the winter, we couldn’t get him to come back into the house. He would lie in the snow and watch the world around him. If we brought him back into the house he would whine and pace until he was able to go out again. His double coat kept him warm, but not all animals are so hardy.
If you have pets who love the outdoors, make certain you do it safely — for both of you!
Pet Calendar: Safely Enjoy Winter Activities With Your Pet
Paw protection. Consider putting boots on your dog if you want to do outdoor activities. Would you go outside barefoot in the winter? That might be a stretch, but your dog’s feet could become sore because of rock salt or snow and ice could ball up between his pads and it can cause pain. If he won’t wear boots, slather on paw protector balm.
Jacket or no jacket? Only you know your pet and her tolerance for the weather. It might not hurt to put a jacket on to help trap her body heat or protect her from rain or snow. If the jacket gets wet, though, dry her off and put on a new jacket.
Keep a watchful eye. In the cold weather it is not as easy for your dog to pick up a scent and if he gets too far ahead of you, he may have trouble finding his way back. Also, depending on where you live and the amount of snow you’re trekking through there could be a risk of falling off a ledge or into a hole you couldn’t see.
Limit outdoor time. It is probably best to have shorter outdoor treks than longer ones. Take multiple short trips just to help build up tolerance to the weather and to assure your dog isn’t getting too cold. Again, you are the best judge of your dog’s tolerance to the weather.
Make time for fun. Because obesity is a problem with our pets, make time for a quick dash through the yard with your pet. Even Henrietta who doesn’t tolerate the cold or snow well seems to get a burst of energy at that first snowfall and will race through the yard like a maniac for a few minutes. Once she’s done, she runs over to me, I pick her up, take her in and get the snow out from between her pads, wrap her in a pre-warmed towel and dry her off. She doesn’t need much outdoor time, but she makes the most of it.
What outdoor activities do you and your pets enjoy?