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“Cold Weather Favorites” by Pauline Larsen

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Bitterly cold temperatures, snow, ice, and chilling winds have hit us hard in Iowa, so this week’s favorites are cold weather  gear.  Just because dogs have fur coats doesn’t mean that they can endure bitterly cold weather.   No dog should be kept outside when the temperatures drop below freezing.

Most of you know that I am not a fan of clothing for dogs ….however, with the frigid, blustery weather we have been experiencing,  your dog might appreciate a sweater or coat…not for appearance, but for warmth.   Veterinarian Arnold Plotnick insists that when the temperatures drop below 40 degrees, short coated and toy breeds need a sweater or coat, and should be outdoors only long enough to relieve themselves.  Dogs bred for cold climates might enjoy a  longer walk, but prolonged exposure to cold weather, especially accompanied by high winds, can lower any dog’s body temperature,   resulting in hypothermia, or frostbite.   We often hear, “Dogs are animals.  They’re meant to be outside.  They’ll be fine.”   Not true!  If you see a companion animal shivering outside in the cold, please don’t ignore him.  Perhaps the caregiver doesn’t even realize the dangers, and a neighborly offer to help make the situation better might be gratefully accepted if you don’t sound accusatory or belligerent.  If the “good neighbor” approach is unsuccessful, it may be necessary to notify the authorities.   A dog’s life might depend on your intervention.

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All dog coats and sweaters are NOT EQUAL…actually the majority of them are almost worthless.    I have two very favorites: the first is an inexpensive anti-pilling fleece  coat that combines warmth, style , and durability at a surprisingly affordable price.  Fido Fleece coats have  collar- to -tail Velcro closing which makes  them easy- on and easy- off.   They cover, warm, and protect the dogs vulnerable underside,  and come in a wide array of styles and sizes.    For details on these coats, go to   www. petsafe.net ….just type in Fido Fleece , or call toll free 800-933-5595.

My very favorite  dog sweater is the amazing  ThunderSweater, a new product from the same company that makes the ThunderShirt, a coat  designed to ease  a  dog’s fear and anxiety, using the same concept as wrapping a human baby snuggly in a blanket, or “swaddling”, a common practice for helping to calm an upset or cranky baby.  It works with humans, and it also works with canines to comfort and calm.  The Thundershirt has helped families, veterinarians, and trainers increase an animal’s self-confidence, providing comfort in situations that were once stressful or frightening.     I am a fan of the Thundershirt because it can be adjusted to fit almost any dog, and most dogs are happy and comfortable wearing it.  It is great for alleviating stress, and also for warmth on chilly days.  The ThunderSweater consists of a regular ThunderShirt  made of a sturdy, stretchy fabric, over which a cable-knit sweater layer is fitted using snaps.    The attractive sweater layer is thick and well-constructed, and the snaps that attach it to the ThundersShirt underneath both hold strong when snapped, and release relatively easy for removal.   Once the garment is on and fitted properly, it looks good and it stays put.   It is certainly better made than most dog coats on the market, and the sweater layer in particular is impressive.  (Yes, it is a bit spendy, but purchase of the Sweater includes both the under Shirt and the Sweater, and because of the high quality workmanship, it will outlast several of the ill- fitting  cheapies that most dogs find uncomfortable)    The only problem with this gear is that, even with the visual instructions provided in the packaging, it may be a challenge to put on the dog the first time, and removing the sweater or putting it on the base layer  can be confusing, but if you are really serious about a great cold weather garment for your dog, check out the ThunderSweater by calling 866-892-2078 or going to ThunderWorks.com and type in ThunderSweater.   The ThunderSweater provides added warmth when needed, while continuing to provide all the calming benefits of ThunderShirt.  It’s well worth the cost!

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(kulfoto.com)

Just a brief mention  (I am running out of allotted space, as usual J) about dog boots or booties.  You will find dozens of them in pet stores and catalogs…many of them are really cute, but ineffective (and most dogs resist wearing them)  If you really want dog boots,  I recommend  Ruffwear Bark’N Boots Grip Tex which are easy to put on, easy to secure, provide continued comfort, and they stay on the paws…they really do.   If you google “Ruffwear dog gear”, you will find several companies offering this product, but again, most dogs resist boots…I recommend rubbing Bag Balm (or just plain Vaseline)  on the dog’s foot pads, and washing the paws after a trek outdoors.

Remember your dog is part of the family and deserves to have a safe, healthy, comfortable winter.

Larsen can be contacted at Paw Prints, Box 373, Newell, Iowa 50568 or by e-mail at plarsen@rconnect.com