By Hollywood Hank
For The Hollywood Star, January, 2010
Did you know more dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season? Make sure that yours always wears ID tags!
Newsflash: Not all dogs are equipped to walk in the frigid temperatures, when the wind can blow through our fur, and the snow and ice can stick to our paws. I can tolerate the cold pretty well because I’m a large dog, but even I have been known to duck under shop awnings to shelter myself from the wind and rain.
I look handsome in my Canadian raincoat, tan in color with a Velcro strap to hold it in place. I don’t have any extra fur coat like some dogs. My girlfriend, Defender, the Australian cattle dog, has a weather-resistant outercoat, with a dense undercoat. She loves to walk in the mornings through Laurelhurst Park, strutting along like it’s 65 degrees outside rather than below freezing. Maybe you saw Defender walking down Peacock Lane at nighttime to see the pretty Christmas lights and decorations on all the houses there.
Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees are dogs obviously built to stand up to cold weather. Some smaller dog breeds like West Highland terriers and Cairn terriers also come equipped with a sturdy undercoat to keep them warm. I admire the Alaska Malamute dogs that have thick outercoats and woolly undercoats to keep them warm while pulling sleds.
For animals living in Oregon, the Oregon Humane Society has some helpful cold-weather tips for people and their animals:
• Pets are best kept inside! Bring pets indoors when temps reach 30 degrees, with or without the wind-chill. If left outside, dogs and cats can get frostbitten ears, nose and feet.
• Chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks can irritate pets’ paws.
• Indoor pets get less exercise in the cold months, so watch their diets!
• If your pet must be kept outside, remember: An outdoor dog needs a dry, elevated shelter with clean, dry bedding. Consider adding a dog door to the garage and placing a soft cushion in the warmest corner of the garage. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal so your pet’s tongue doesn’t get frozen to the bowl. Give outdoor pets more food—they need more calories in the winter to produce body heat.
• Wipe pets’ paws when they come back into the house.
• Keep your dog on a leash and under your control. In the cold, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost.
• Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather – animals can freeze to death.
– Oregon Humane Society Noseweek Newsletter (sent to OHS volunteers), dated 12/10/2009.
Hollywood Hank is a standard Boxer who lives in the Hollywood neighborhood.