As cold weather looms, tips to keep 'man's best friend' warm
The temperature fluctuates and fell as low as negative-5 degrees during winter break in East Lansing. Students commuting to class can bundle up, but there's also "man's best friend" — dogs.
Kate Turner, customer service and community outreach manager at Ingham Country Animal Shelter, encourages pet owners to be responsible with letting their animals out this winter. They need to have the proper supplies at their disposal if dogs are spending significant periods of time in the cold.
"Remember, dogs need to have access to shelter at all times, and need to be fed accordingly to how the weather is," Turner said. "If they are burning more calories trying to stay warm, to make sure that they also increase their food.”
Agribusiness management and agronomic sciences junior Julia Green has three dogs, and a couple of horses. For the last one to six years, she has owned her dogs. Green has a Doberman Pinscher, Bullmastiff and a German Shepherd.
“I tend to not let my dog spend more than two hours outside without any protection,” Green said.
If a dog stays out for long periods of time in the cold and snow, one can take measurements to ensure they stay warmer for longer. There are coats and sweaters made to fit dogs of all sizes. Green puts a coat on her Doberman sometimes because he has short hair and less insulation. Pet-friendly salts are also available for pet owners.
Check dogs for signs of cold-weather damage by examining their paws for cracking. The canines can also get frostbite just like humans. There are balms that one can rub on a dog’s paw to avoid cracking, as well as booties.
Turner recommends insulating dog houses with straw to help keep animals warm.
For the last six months, plant biology junior Nicole Norris has owner her poodle, Lucky.
Norris has had dogs growing up and has prior experience to taking care of pets. She avoids leaving Lucky outside. Her poodle does not shed and therefore does not have an undercoat.
Though Lucky loves the snow and tries to walk her as often as possible, sometimes the weather interferes. If it's not too chilly, Lucky gets a little lucky and makes the trek to the Bailey Dog Park.
“We will come here for about 45 minutes if we can last that long, until our toes start freezing," Norris said.
Different dog breeds can withstand the cold better than others. It depends on the size and breed of the dog, as well as the temperature outside.
Regardless, dogs should not be left out too long during the winter.
While in Ingham County there is no law prohibiting outdoor pets, Turner recommends pet owners provide the proper provisions for their animals such as food, water and a dog house. If it's below freezing, pet owners are urged to manage the time their dogs spend outside.