How to ‘Winterize’ Your Dog
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How to ‘Winterize’ Your Dog

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We winterize our homes and cars and bundle up to brave icy winds outdoors, but too often we fail to do the same for our four-legged friends. Yet regardless of what nature delivers, dogs have to go out and they need regular exercise for their physical and psychological well-being.

Whether urban or rural, dogs can face multiple hazards during the colder months, ranging from cracked paws and dry skin to electrocution or immersion in a frozen pond.

Even pets that escape the cold by heading south with their snowbird owners can encounter unexpected risks that are easily avoided. But let’s focus first on those that stay up north.

When winter cold takes hold, our dogs can’t layer up the way we do without our help. According to Nancy Kay, a Cornell-trained vet and author of “Speaking for Spot” and “Your Dog’s Best Health,” unless they’re large, thick-coated arctic breeds like a Samoyed, husky or malamute, they may need a coat — especially if they have short hair and spend a long time outdoors. Many dog owners pay handsomely for premium dog food, yet may hesitate to invest in a proper winter coat for their canine companions.

Conserving body heat is especially critical for puppies, small dogs that have a high ratio of surface area to size, and dogs that are thin, old or have chronic health problems like heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.