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Soft Paws: Winterizing dogs important at this time of year

Beethoven is a playful 10-month-old Saint Bernard mix. He is pictured with CGHS/SPCA Animal Care Technician Kyle Miller. Beethoven was surrendered to us because his previous owners didn’t have enough time for him. He is looking for an active home where he can be worked with regularly, since he is extremely energetic but has a lot of potential. He does well with dogs that are similar in size and would need management with cats. If you are interested in meeting with Beethoven, stop by the shelter today.
January 11, 2019 11:37 am Updated: January 11, 2019 11:52 am


Many articles are written at this time of year on “winterizing” our dogs. The American Kennel Club puts out a nice resume of cold-weather maintenance suggestions for our north country canines. Of course, we’ll add some tips of our own to this master list:

n Provide plenty of fresh water. Use a rubber horse bucket for outdoor watering. The use of metal is dangerous — sticking tongues. Dogs cannot properly hydrate by licking snow. It is not a substitute for water. For outdoor dogs, put out really warm water in the morning, and check frequently. Check your Agway and Tractor Supply stores for in-bucket water heaters.

n Provide plenty of food. Unless Fido is spending his days in front of the wood stove, a food increase is almost always necessary for dogs spending significant time outdoors.

n Keep your dog’s paws dry. Salt used on sidewalks and roads can present your dog with cracked and bleeding/sore pads. Bag balm or petroleum jelly works wonders after rinsing feet.

n Groom your dog regularly. It’s a given that dogs regulate temperature and insulate better if properly groomed. Dirty coats do not keep a dog warm. Give them a damp hot towel bath with a brisk brushing session. That undercoat needs to come out to prompt fresh and rapid regrowth.

n Keep your dog warm, dry, and away from drafts. Outside shelters should be raised above the ground a few inches and should preferably be insulated. A rubber or burlap flap in front of the opening is desirable.

n Though many prefer straw or wood shavings for bedding, a dog can develop skin infections if forced to live on damp material, so check and change bedding frequently.

n With very few exceptions, all dogs should come in for the evening, at least if temperatures fall below 30°F. If you bring them into garages or unheated porches, make sure they have a blanket, rubber mat, or pad to get them off the cold floor. An overhead heat lamp is not only safe for garage use, it provides an excellent climate of warmth for your resting dog.

n Watch out for winter hazards. A few years ago, we rescued a stray dog with frostbite on the tips of his ears and on his front pads. He could hardly walk. This animal was a 105 full-coated German Shepherd Dog who supposedly could “take the cold.” I think not!

Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or visit website at Stop down and see us at 111 Humane Society Road, off Route 66 (about a mile south of the intersection with Route 9H) in Hudson. Our hours are 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. The Food Bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food anytime during business hours. All of our cats and kittens are “Furrever Free” with all expenses paid. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $75 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available 10-11 p.m. every Saturday, no appointment necessary, for a donation of $5 for cats and $10 for dogs. Charlene Marchand is the Chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted at