Category Archives for Pet Care

Cold Weather Tips For Dogs

Amy Mishima's Happy Dog Owner Blog

Cold Weather Tips For Dogs

It’s almost depressing when 33 degrees feels comfortable and no longer cold, but I suppose that’s what happens when we’ve been surviving a record breaking snowy and cold winter here in the Elmhurst, IL area. 

It may be the end of January, but like any Midwesterner, I know Mother Nature has no plans to heat things up anytime soon.  Here are some cold weather tips to keep your pooch safe and happy the next few wintery months. 

  • No dog should be left outside unsupervised.  This tip is relevant year round (due to things like the summer heat, the threat of coyotes, etc...) and winter is no exception.  Just because your dog has a fur coat doesn’t mean they can withstand frigid temps.
  • Protect their feet.  Dog booties not only provide a source of entertainment (ever see a dog try to walk in them for the first time?); but they provide better grip on the ice, protection against dangerous objects, and warmth.  If your pet won’t stand for wearing booties, be sure to always wash off their paws with a warm wet towel to remove any ice balls or chemicals that may have accumulated between their toes.  Their paw pads are tough, but salt and ice melts can cause them to sting and even crack.
  • Old dogs, small dogs, and dogs with little fur should wear sweaters or jackets to protect against the cold.  While this may seem frivolous, it is a necessity for many dogs.  This extra layer will keep them dry, safe, and much more comfortable in severely cold weather.
  • Keep them away from Antifreeze – this is highly, highly toxic.  It only takes a few licks for this to be deadly.
  • As harmless as it may seem, do NOT let them eat snow!   Not only can the snow be hiding dangerous objects that you don’t want them to ingest, but eating too much snow can also cause hypothermia or an upset stomach.
  • This may go without saying, but stay away from frozen ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.
  • Never leave your dog in a car unattended.  We all know the threat of hot cars for our pets, but cold cars can pose just as significant a risk.  Cars rapidly cool down in cold weather and become like a refrigerator which can cause your dog to freeze to death.  

Exercise is important year round for our dogs.  Don’t hibernate just because it’s cold outside.  Keep these cold weather tips in mind and pay attention to the signs your dog is giving you.

If you don’t want to bear the cold, Dogs Love Running! Is here to help.  We offer year-round dogs walking, dog running, and pet sitting for Elmhurst, Downers Grove, and other nearby Chicago suburbs.

How Cold is Too Cold to Walk the Dog

Amy Mishima's Happy Dog Owner Blog

Keeping up with the theme of cold weather tips for walking dogs, I thought I’d answer the question that I’ve been asked at least 20 times in the last couple weeks:

  •  How cold is too cold to walk my dog?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one perfect answer for this.  I don’t 100% buy the whole “if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog” theory.  And no matter how cold you feel, your dog still needs exercise during the winter.

After talking to a few veterinarians in Elmhurst and Lombard, I’ve come to a few generalized guidelines.

While there’s not one right answer for an exact safe outdoor temperature for your dog, here are some tips to keep in mind:
  • It’s important to know how much the wind chill lowers the feel of the actual temperature.  You should always go by the temperature with the wind chill included.
  • If it is snowing and it is especially wet snow, it can be more uncomfortable.  Body temperatures will lower much faster with any type of moisture.  You should shorten your walk time in those types of conditions.
  • Most healthy medium or large dogs can walk for 30-minutes if the temperature is above 20 degrees F.  Smaller dogs should limit the walk to 15 or 20 minutes if temps are between 20 to 32 degrees F.  If it’s below 0 degrees, no dog should be out for a walk. 

Your dog’s age, breed, and health are all major factors as well.  Remember that puppies and elder dogs are much more sensitive to the cold weather because their bodies can’t regulate their body temps well.  If it’s below freezing, these dogs should be taken outside to eliminate only.

Different breeds have better tolerance to winter weather.  While no dog should be left out in the cold alone, breeds like German Shepherds, St. Bernards, and Akitas have thick coats that help protect them from the elements.  Small dogs and short-haired dogs need a sweater or jacket for the added protection and warmth.

Any physical conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia will only be aggravated by the cold.  Keep pets with these conditions inside where it’s warm.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to know your dog - pay attention to the signals they are giving you.  If they are shivering, standing in a hunched position, lifting their paw(s) off the ground, or giving you verbal cues (like whining or barking); bring them inside.  More serious signs are things like lethargy, weakness, or slowed breathing which are all signs of hypothermia.  Keep an eye out for frostbite as well.  The most common places this will effect is their tail, paws, and ear tips.  If they are turning pale or blue, get your dog to a veterinarian.

Bottom line, don’t let the cold weather keep your dog from getting exercise.  You may have to limit your regular walk to only 5 or 10 minutes, but make sure to get them outside even if it’s just for a little bit when the weather is appropriate.  If the weather isn’t cooperative, make sure they are getting sufficient potty breaks and find other activities indoors to keep their minds and bodies active.

What to do With Your Dog When Kids go Back to School

Amy Mishima's Happy Dog Owner Blog

What To Do With Your Dog When Kids Go Back To School.

Can you believe that in less than one week it’s back to school time for the kids of Elmhurst?

Back-to-school inevitably signals changes in our routines and everyone is most likely away from home for much longer periods of time. These changes can be especially hard on our family pet which can ultimately lead to depression or behavior problems.

Here are a few things you can do to help your pet's transition when the kids go back to school.

  1. Ease them into change. If there’s still time, have the entire family leave the house for increasingly longer periods so your dog is familiar with being alone. If your dog does struggle with separation anxiety at a high level, start getting the lunch boxes and book bags out throughout the day to help desensitize them to these objects that they will otherwise associate with being left alone. 
  2. Establish a routine. Dogs are creatures of habit and changes in their routine can be the biggest cause of stress. While your scheduling carpools and after-school activities, it’s important to establish Fido’s new routine. Be sure to set regular feeding, walking, and play times for them. 
  3. Increase your dog’s exercise. Many studies show that increasing your pet’s aerobic activity by only 30-minutes a day will help to eliminate separation anxiety. Just like humans, dogs are best equipped to relieve stress through physical outlets. Hiring a dog walker or dog runner to visit them midday will not only break up their day and give them a potty break, but it will allow them to burn off energy and relieve any boredom. You may even want to consider taking them to doggy daycare on days where you will be away for a prolonged period of time. 
  4. Have a variety of mentally stimulating toys to play with. Puzzle toys that encourage your dog to look for hidden treats or Kong toys with a bit of peanut butter or other fillers will entertain your dog. 
  5. Break out some tunes. It’s a common practice in dog shelters to play certain types of calming music to help the dogs relax at night. While it’s not a guarantee, I’ve found that playing classical music eases my dogs into a relaxed state. 
  6. Quality (time) over quantity. Now that schedules are full, your dog may not get as much playtime or attention as they did during summer. Make sure you make the most of the time you spend with them. Long walks, trips to the park, lounging around on the couch, fetch in the backyard – do whatever you know makes them the happiest. Chances are, getting attention from you will make them happy so be sure your setting aside time for your pooch every day.