Puppy Couture or Necessity: Does your Dog Really Need that Sweater?

Some might think that putting clothes on your pet is a little on the extravagant side, but many veterinarians do recommend that certain types of dogs bundle up during the winter months. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a dog’s size and ability to keep in body heat affect body temperature- making some dogs more at risk for hypothermia than others. For this reason, a sweater is sometimes recommended to help sustain a healthy body temperature.

A dog’s normal body temperature is about 101 degrees. If that temperature drops five or six degrees, a dog can experience low blood pressure and kidney damage. In extreme cases, a drop in temperature can decrease the blood flow to vital organs and lead to hypothermia.

Dogs most at risk are small, short-haired, and have a low activity level. Some breeds at risk are the Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Dachshund, Miniature Pincher, and Bichon Frise. Owners with senior or ailing dogs of any breed or size should also take caution in climates with cold weather.

So if your dog falls into one of these categories or just doesn’t seem to be a fan of chilly temperatures, don’t hesitate to invest in that doggy sweater for winter walks.

Too Cold to Play Outside? Tips for Keeping your Pet Active During the Winter

We’re well into winter but not out of the cold quite yet. If you feel your pet is getting a little sluggish or stir-crazy from being cooped up in the warm house, here are a few tips for getting your feline or canine friend active during the winter months:

Toys, toys, toys!

It’s too chilly to play outside, but that doesn’t mean your pet can’t burn off some energy inside. Kitty can be entertained for hours by a laser pointer or a cat toy infused with catnip. With a large dog, an indoor game of fetch might get tricky, but a small dog can get a little workout from chasing a ball down the hallway or other semi-open area of your home. The important thing is to keep your pet stimulated to avoid long periods of inactivity.

Set up a Play Date

If the cold has your pooch looking a little lazy, it might be time to invite over a doggy friend. A play date is an excellent way to keep you pup socialized, active, and happy.

Get Out on the Town

If a winter stroll isn’t an option, take a little car ride to a local pet store or other business that allows pets on a leash. This is an excellent opportunity for your dog to work on his obedience in a social situation, something he may not have had much of an opportunity to do lately.

Learn Something!

If you’ve ever thought about enrolling your dog in an obedience or agility course, this is a great time to do so. These classes allow for physical activity and mental stimulation- and you might even end up with a better behaved companion!

Secondhand Smoke Poses Danger for Pets

Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health, but this hard-to-kick habit may also be hazardous to the health of your furry best friend.  Pets with owners that smoke are more likely to develop cancer, allergies, and other illnesses. So if your new year’s resolution was to ditch the habit, the health of your loyal companion is one more reason to stick to it.

Pets are especially vulnerable to cigarettes because they not only inhale secondhand smoke, but they’re also at risk for ingesting the tobacco residue that collects in their fur. Since cats frequently groom themselves, their risk for developing oral cancer is high. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke are also twice as likely to develop feline lymphoma, which is oftentimes fatal.

Dogs that are frequently in the vicinity of cigarette smoke are at risk for lung, nasal, and sinus cancers. Another danger for curious puppies is the ingestion of cigarette butts, which can lead to a fatal case of nicotine poisoning.

Less life threatening (yet still very serious) conditions that your pet can develop from secondhand smoke include respiratory infections, eye irritation, lung inflammation, and asthma. For the wellbeing of both you and your pet, it’s best to ditch the cigarettes and aim for healthier habits.

Slimming Down in 2011… With your Dog?

If your New Year’s resolution involves dropping a few pounds or amping up your workout routine, chances are part of your plan for a healthier new you involves your pet. A recent study done by the American Kennel Club reveals that nearly 75% of those polled will incorporate Fido in achieving their 2011 fitness goals.

And why not? Including your pup in your workout routine is an excellent idea. Walks, runs, and trips to the dog park are all fun ways to burn some calories while spending quality time with your furry best friend. There are even fitness classes popping up in some places that accommodate both you and your pet. Staying active together not only helps you trim your waistline but also contributes to the wellbeing and happiness of your dog.

However, if your doggy isn’t used to strenuous exercise, make sure to ease into your new workout regimen and watch for any signs of pain or discomfort. Also make sure you both take plenty of water breaks to keep hydrated.

Wishing a happy and healthy New Year to you and your pet!