Should My Dog Wear a Coat in Winter?

ASK A VET: SHOULD MY DOG WEAR A COAT IN WINTER?

(written by Kathryn Primm, DVM originally published by http://www.iheartdogs.com)

There are two camps of people in the world, dog people and… everyone else! I am only kidding, but there are people that think dogs are “only animals” and do not need all that we provide for them. For those people I have a thought: our dogs are not wolves and not even wild animals at all. We have taken them into human society and they have adapted to it. This process is domestication.

Domestic pets, especially indoor dwelling ones or those that have been modified by selective breeding, have unique needs akin to the needs of the humans that they share space with. We have bred dogs to depend on us for their needs. No longer are they well equipped to fend for themselves and we have accepted responsibility for them as our friends and companions. They protect our homes and possessions and we provide them with ease of living.

They live with us in the controlled climate that dwellings provide. Their bodies are less adapted to extremes of temperature. There are ways to decide if your dog might benefit from a winter coat. Consider the following guidelines.

Coat characteristics

Dogs with short, slick coats have less insulation factor. If you have a thick coated dog with an undercoat, he is the most adapted for cold, but use your own judgement. If he seems cold to you, who knows him best, he probably is. Hairless varieties, like Chinese Crested Dogs would probably really like to have a coat for any outdoor time in the winter.

Age

If your dog is a senior pet, she may be less tolerant of extremes of temperature and might really appreciate a jacket. If you feel cold, your senior dog probably is too. She is more likely to suffer from age associated disease, as well and may have arthritis or metabolic issues that would make being cold feel even worse.

Health status

Is your dog battling an ongoing illness? If your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, cold temperatures are going to be less comfortable than they might be to another dog. Pets recovering from almost any disease or injury are less able to maintain the best body temperature because their systems are already working hard to recover. These pets will like the warmth of a coat.

Breed

Dogs who have less body fat are more likely to need a little help maintaining the right body temperature. Thin dogs may need a jacket more quickly than normal weight dogs. Certain breeds of dog seem less cold tolerant. Chihuahuas seem to tremble a lot and may be more likely to feel chilled. “Sight hounds” like whippets and greyhounds are naturally lean and have short coats. All of these dogs would be likely to appreciate a winter coat.

The best advice is that your dog is with you most of the time. She is adapted to the conditions that typically are comfortable to you. If you are outside for a period of time and you know that you will want your coat, grab hers too.

 

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Halloween Horrors? How can you protect your cat?

When we think of Halloween, black cats are as much a part of the decorations as pumpkins and witches. But your house cat is not. Halloween is a fun and festive occasion, but there are parts of any holiday that cause stress and even risk to your cat.

Some of the Halloween traditions include parties and door traffic.  We often have music or scary noises with candles or spooky decorations.  So much is going on that a frightened cat could easily be overlooked.

Halloween decorations may pose a hazard to a curious cat.  Orange and black string or tinsel that can be a part of the costumes and wall art can be a delightful attraction to a cat or kitten that becomes less delightful when swallowed where it can become a gastrointestinal foreign body. Empty candy bags and shopping bags can become a suffocation hazard when played with unattended.  Cats can knock over candles creating a fire hazard.  Other Halloween dangers can include glow sticks.  Glow sticks are non-toxic, but the liquid tastes very foul and will cause excessive drooling which can be alarming.  It is better to keep them out of an inquisitive cat’s reach too.

Cats instinctively fear things that are new and different so family members in disguise could be quite disarming to a cat. If you are celebrating the Halloween season with a party or offering Trick-Or-Treats, it is very wise to secure your cat in a safe room away from noise, traffic and lights.  Make sure there is a sign on the door, PLEASE DO NOT LET THE CAT OUT.   If you have trained your cat that his carrier is a safe place (and you should!), make sure the carrier is inside the safe room with the usual blanket inside. It should be away from windows. Covering it with a towel might also make it seem safer.

Cats can become frightened and slip through doorways and are lost in the dark. It is always a good idea to microchip every pet, even indoor only ones and be certain that you register the chip with the international database and keep your info current.  Then, if your cat is found after the holiday, she can be scanned by rescues or vets and returned to you. Microchipped cats are over 20 times more likely to be gotten home than unidentified cats.1

Halloween is a festive time that ushers in the fall.  Everyone enjoys the tricks and treats, but the spooks are not so fun for your cat. Take a moment to consider how this all seems to him and make some accommodations to keep him safe and happy.

1. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,July 15, 2009, Vol. 235, No. 2, Pages 160-167, doi: 10.2460/javma.235.2.160

All dogs have bones. Do you know enough about them to keep your dog safe?

Today’s guest is Dr. David Dycus who is a veterinary orthopedic surgeon. He is a bone specialist! He shares with us what to look for and common issues that our dogs might suffer from. He tells us when we need to get help and what signs are important.

Check it out for free by clicking the link below.

https://www.petliferadio.com/gonetothedogsep11.html

Cat lovers : 5 Ways to Know When It is Time to Say Goodbye

We all dread the day when we will have to say goodbye and even more the possibility that we will have to make the decision ourselves.

In the episode, Cherie Buisson, DVM of Helping Hands Pet Hospice joins us to help us know more about when it’s time. Click the link below and listen for free.

https://www.petliferadio.com/ninelivesep25.html