Paw’s Corner – How does your pet handle the cold?


By Sam Mazzotta

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: The other day, I watched a neighbor walk her small Pug on an icy sidewalk in 19-degree weather. Her dog wore a sweater but had no protection for its paws, and it was limping onto the pavement and then off onto the crusted snowpack to find somewhere to “go.”

Even though she was taking her dog out for only a few minutes, the conditions were very uncomfortable and maybe even painful for the dog. Can you tell your readers to be aware of the outdoor conditions and only let their pets out if they’re capable of handling the weather? Not all dogs are the same, and they don’t necessarily “get used to it” when it’s extremely cold or hot. – Sid P., Lowell, Massachusetts

DEAR SID: That is a very good point! Even with a protective sweater or vest and booties, conditions can just be too extreme for your pet. And that definition of “too extreme” can vary for each of your pets. A large dog may handle cold weather much better, for much longer, than a small or even medium-size dog.

How can you tell what a dog can handle? First, some breeds are known for their tolerance to cold – or lack thereof. A dachsund has very low tolerance and may quickly get ill, while a Bernese mountain dog thrives in cold, snowy landscapes. Second, each dog has its own level of tolerance regardless of breed. Owners must protect their pets from the cold, observe their behavior when they go out (do they whimper, shiver or limp?) and respond immediately. For small dogs with tiny paws and low cold tolerance, invest in pee pads to use on chilly days.

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