Resolution: No pooch popsicles

People coming into Van Horn, whether to stay or visit, always notice two things: our beautiful mountains and the stray dogs.  
The big white dog that suns himself on that one street; the pack of Chihuahuas that run around that neighborhood; the German Shepherd that tracks up and down that one street; or the unruly mob that chases around the vicinity of the arena – these are what anyone, even if they have been here a short time, notices about Van Horn.  
Enter The ARC (Animal Responsibility Coalition).  We are a group of concerned residents that have decided to begin to do something about our stray dog population – if we can.  Our first step is to educate pet owners on the best ways to care for their pets in the hopes that this will reduce some of the strays; because some of these strays have just been allowed to stray from their yards too often.  
Our plan is to do much more than education, but we have to start with one step at a time. With education in mind, we hope that these periodic articles will help give pet owners practical tips on how to make their animals safer and happier.
We have been told by the National Weather Service that this winter will be the coldest that it has been in a very long time.  February tends to be the coldest month of the year and it is fast approaching.  Consequently, we must take care that we consider our pets as we prepare for the cold weather ahead.
It saddens me to see a little Chihuahua outside without any shelter in freezing weather.  His body is so small and his hair so short that he has no protection for himself when it gets too cold.  Imagine being forced to stay outside in 32-degree weather without any clothes.  You would be miserable!  I guarantee that that poor little Chihuahua is more than miserable; he is probably fighting for his life.
Consider these three things when getting your pets ready for the cold weather:  shelter, heat, and water.
Shelter.  Although larger dogs are better in cold weather than smaller ones, even the big dogs need some kind of shelter from the elements.  If the dog is tied, it could turn into torture if it has no shelter.  Does your smaller dog have a place to go to get out of the wind and rain?  If not, he may try to leave your yard to find shelter.
Heat.  Larger dogs (over 30 pounds) have larger body mass and are, therefore, able to create their own heat more efficiently.  However, in colder weather, even your large dog needs something to help hold the heat.  An old blanket, canvas or towel in his shelter will help.  Some hay, straw or wood shavings can also be good.  A dog that digs will dig in the dirt to help keep itself warm and sometimes providing something to hold the heat will keep him from digging everywhere.  
Small dogs, like Chihuahuas or Terriers, are much more vulnerable in the cold weather.  In freezing or below-freezing temperatures, they may not have enough body mass or thick enough hair to produce heat or keep it.  If you have one of these types, please bring him inside when the weather gets cold.  
If it is too cold for you outside without a jacket, it is probably too cold for her, too.   A laundry room or 

garage is better than outside if you don’t want her in the house.  You can also “crate train” these breeds and they can sleep inside in their crates when the nights are too cold.
Water.  Every metabolic process in your pet’s body (and yours, too) requires water.  When it is cold outside, their bodies are working overtime trying to produce heat in order to keep the vital organs functioning.  Therefore, it is very easy for them to become dehydrated.  If they become dehydrated, they cannot keep warm.  Make sure that your pet has access to enough water.  Change it out every day and keep it from freezing.  If your dog is tied, it needs to be within reach.
Resolve this winter to keep your pet warm and happy.  We don’t want any pooch popsicles if we can help it.  After you’ve winterized your pet, keep an eye out for another article about safe and happy pets brought to you by The ARC of Van Horn.


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