Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To Coat or Not to Coat?

As the weather keeps dipping into the teens, and we become experts in navigating around 5' piles of frozen snow while we continue to sound the Amber alert for Al Gore, there arises a much more practical concern than my SUV emissions.

My dog.

To coat or not to coat? THAT, my friends, is the question. As you know I recently adopted a French bulldog named Lola (Did you see the Frenchie that won at Westminster on Monday night?). Unlike many breeds, Frenchie's have no undercoat and most sites (including all the rescue sites) encourage owners to "dress" the dogs appropriately in the winter.

But then while I was Googling to find info about the dog in Brooklyn that was mugged for his coat, I found this article:

"...Miniature dog parkas, sweaters and vests may be adorable — and even seem sensible in the deep freeze of a New York winter — but in fact, vets say, city dog owners who play dress-up could be endangering their pets’ health.

Unless your dog is a Chihuahua or an equally tiny toy pooch with short hair, canines barely feel icy temperatures below 32 degrees, Beaver says.

“Just because we feel cold, it doesn’t mean our dogs do,” says Webb. “Maybe if the dog is coming from a very warm climate like Florida, we might recommend it wear a coat for a few weeks to acclimate. But most dogs, even if they just arrived in Alaska, are pretty much oblivious to the cold.”

In fact, some dogs — including huskies and Newfoundlands — regulate their own body temperature with an insulating layer of fur, which lifts off their bodies in warm weather and pulls in close to trap heat when the mercury drops.

Interfering with this natural climate-control system could lead to heatstroke — and, in a worst-case scenario, even death, says Beaver. (Read the whole article)

Now I feel bad putting her coat on her because I feel like I might be messing with her own body temperature regulation...but as she quakes and quivers I remind myself that this is a man-made breed...and I vacillate.

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