Petsicle Prevention

Sometimes it's hard to know whether it's too cold for your pooch to be outdoors. Here are some tips.

How cold is too cold? Depends on the dog. Shorthaired, miniature, very old, or very young dogs with chronic illness can tolerate less than longhaired, double-coated, outside-all-winter-long northern breeds. If you have plans for lots of winter recreation with your dog, get started early. Your canine buddy needs to get acclimated to cold temperatures.

How hard is too hard? For all dogs exerting themselves in freezing temperatures, fresh water and rest are necessary. Dogs are susceptible to dehydration, hypothermia, and frostbite. Many sporting breeds will run, retrieve, or do laps to the point of exhaustion.

How long is too long? A dog acclimated and suited to cold temperatures can do quite well outside for a whole day or night. He'll still need fresh water, so a heated water bowl or frequent refills might be needed. A dark-colored plastic bowl in the sunshine will stay ice-free longer than a metal bowl in the shade. Southern exposure and shelter from wind help too. When temperatures dip well below zero, your dog needs an insulated shelter. Be certain there is adequate ventilation.

Don’t forget the cats. Cats are good at seeking heat and shelter, but providing an insulated shelter with fresh water is important. They are more susceptible to frostbite on their ears and other extremities. Increasing fat and protein in the diet can also help outside cats stay warmer.

Beware of these weird winter dangers:

1. Antifreeze. Ethylene glycol antifreeze will cause fatal kidney failure if your pet drinks very much of it. Propylene glycol is nontoxic.

2. Gas chambers. Warming up the truck with your dog in the bed might seem like a good idea, but carbon monoxide emissions will build up rapidly in your garage, potentially killing your pet.

3. Suffocation. That toasty, snug doghouse might be too snug, especially if multiple dogs are using it; be certain there is adequate ventilation, and then add some more.

4. De-icer. Rock salt and chemical de-icers can be very irritating to paw pads. Wash and dry pads after walks to remove any chemicals.

5. Hidden cats. Under the hood and near wood stoves are common hideouts. Honk your horn and pound on the hood before starting the engine. Barricade the wood stove. Fresh water and an insulated shelter are all most cats need during most winters; frigid temperatures require more insulation and possibly an extra heat source.

Liz Layne, DVM practives small-animal medicine at Creekside Veterinary Hospital on Blackwood Road.

The Lewis & Bark Motel: Winter boarding for your furry friends
Anyone who travels knows that finding a place to kennel pets can be harder than booking the actual trip. Not only are kennel facilities often booked up months in advance, some of them aren't exactly pet paradise. Here are Dr. Layne's tips on selecting a boarding facility for your pet.

1. Ask friends for recommendations.

2. Ask for a tour of the facility. How many staff members are available per pet? Are dogs supervised?

3. Ask if the staff will accommodate your pet’s special needs (diet, exercise, medication)?

4. Find out whether they will call your veterinarian for medical emergencies or use their own.

5. If your pet has complicated behavioral or medical conditions, ask if your veterinary hospital provides boarding. Some grooming facilities also provide boarding.

6. Make reservations! Thanksgiving and Christmas fill up quickly.

Bozeman Boarding Facilities
This list of kennels should fit the bill most of the time, but we also included petsitters, which provide personalized care in your home. They also provide care for exotic pets like ferrets, rodents, birds, fish, and livestock. And they provide housesitting duties too, like watering plants, bringing in the mail, and shoveling the walk.

Anduril Kennels

Animal House

Puppy Tub

Gallatin Pet Getaway

Kennels West

Querencia Kennels

In-Home Pet-Sitters:

Your Pet’s Pal

Montana Pet Lovin’

-Tina Orem