"Baby, it's cold outside."
Whoever coined that phrase must have lived in our area, what with temperatures of 9 degrees below zero and wind chill factors of 24 degrees below zero. When I let my dog outside, I open the door and he stands beside me looking out at the backyard. Then he looks up at me as if to say, "You know it's still cold out there."
Not even the squirrel sitting on the fence entices him to move quickly out of the house.
During these cold times, we need to protect our dogs.
The AKC suggests winter tips to keep our dogs safe in the cold winter weather:
• Beware of antifreeze. Although most antifreeze is green ethylene, it comes in different colors. Since as little as a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause kidney failure in dogs, be aware of what your dog is sniffing. There can be residue in the streets. The signs that your dog has swallowed it include vomiting, seizures, panting, excessive thirst, lethargy and a drunken appearance. If you think your dog has ingested antifreeze, get him to a vet ASAP. It can be lethal.
• Avoid thin ice. Ice cracks easily and dogs can fall into the icy water. Slipping on ice can also cause muscle strain and other injuries.
• Trim foot fuzz. Ice balls can form in the hair between the pads and toes of long haired dogs. Keep the hair trimmed so that the hair is even with the surface of the foot.
• Protect your dog's paws. Dog boots and Paw Balms are available from retailers to protect your dog's feet from abrasions or injuries. There are also recipes available to make your own Paw Balm.
• Clean your dog's feet. Wash your dog's feet when he comes in from a walk. Winter streets and sidewalks are covered with rock salt (sodium chloride) and calcium chloride, which can damage dog's paws. Washing your dog's feet with warm water, reaching between the toes and pads, removes theses substances from his paws.
• Bundle your dog up. Dressing short-haired or small dogs will provide them with the extra warmth they need in the winter.
• Consider your dog's age. Since very young and very old dogs have difficulty regulating their body temperature, they have more extreme reactions to changes in the weather. Keep them inside.
• Limit your dog's time outside. Frostbite is a concern for your dog, especially on earflaps and tail tips. Skin that appears white or blue are signs of frostbite.
• Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog can get as dehydrated in the winter as he does in the summer.
• Acclimate your dog to freezing temperatures. Short romps outside help to get your dog's body used to the changes in the weather.
Playing in the snow with your dog is a lot of fun. But if the weather is too cold for you to be outside, it's too cold for your dog. And there's a lot to be said for being warm and cozy with your dog inside the house.
• The Buddy Foundation, 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights, is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 shelter. Call (847) 290-5806 or visit www.thebuddyfoundation.org.