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Cold Weather Blues

By Grant Published: January 5, 2010

This is the time of year (at least here in NE-Ohio...) that we all love! Okay, maybe not. I'm sure there are some of you that like to ski, snowmobile, shovel snow, and all the other fun winter sports! It's also a time when many dogs love to go out and play!

My two dogs are loving the snow. For some reason, Lexi HAS to bite the snow as she runs around bounding over snow drifts. She and Shayna love to wrestle in the snow.

I'm often asked about dogs being outside and how long and about sweaters or covers and such. First, your veterinarian is a great source of information on how much exposure your dog might handle, but even then, guidelines are likely all you'll get.

It's a balance between your outside temperature, wind factors and your dog’s size, coat and activity level. A four pound hairless dog at 6 degrees sitting on your porch in the wind is going to last about 3 minutes. Okay, I really don't know how long, but we have to use common sense! There are many dogs that have dual coats; the under coat for warmth, the outer coat for shedding water, etc. Maybe you have a short-haired boxer that only weighs 35 pounds. Say it's only 30 degrees outside, but the dog is your jogging partner. If it's not windy and you actually jog, your dog may very likely generate enough heat to not get cold during your run. However, if you cool down/walk the last 3 minutes to your home, your boxer could get chilled as they try to make the transition.

There is no one right answer. Both of my dogs are basically built for colder weather. Big, furry, dual coated dogs. But I just don't leave them out forever either. The other day, they were at a friend’s home. It was about 28 degrees or so. They played outside for almost 90 minutes with another German Shepherd and they never stopped running. They made a bee-line for the water dish when they did come in, but LOVED being outside playing!!

Quite frankly, I've never quite understood how dogs react to temperature. My old dog, Buddy, was 1/2 Golden Retriever and 1/2 Yellow Lab. In the summer, he would go outside and lay in the direct sunlight in the gravel driveway when it was 80 degrees. Then he'd come inside and sleep by the air conditioning vent. Go figure!

My advice: read up on your breed’s capabilities. Use common sense. Keep an eye on your dog.

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Grant Holmes is a Dog Obedience Professional and the owner of Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience & People Training. He loves working one on one with your dog in your home, working on the goals you've set for obedience & behavior! Any dog, any size, any challenge.

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