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Protecting Your Dog from the Elements of Winter

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It's winter here in Chicago and, as we all know, along with that comes snow.  And lots of it!  While the snow is beautiful, it's important to remember that the accompanying cold temperatures, ice - and salt intended to melt that ice - can create great peril for your dog.  
As I walk my dog Max and watch others walking their dogs, I find myself wondering, "what on earth are these people thinking?  Or not."  While Max is well appointed with his coat and purple rubber PAWZ booties, almost every dog I see (from short-haired Chihuahuas to thick-coated Bernese Mountain Dogs) are basically buck naked.  And trust me, Max and I are not making a fashion statement here; rather, we are ensuring he stays as safe, warm, and protected from the elements as I am.  
Protecting your pet from the wrath of Old Man Winter
There are two primary areas on a dog’s body that must be protected from all things winter. The first is the dog’s paws (specifically the pads), and the second is his chest, because both of these areas are easily exposed to the elements.  In order to make sure you're properly protecting your precious pup, buy him some booties to guard the feet from salt, moisture and potential frostbite.  If for whatever reason you don't have access to booties, at a minimum you should always thoroughly clean your pet's paws when coming in from a walk or play time in the snow.  Make sure you clean both the pads and between the toes with a wet cloth, baby wipes or one of the many specialty products designed to clean an animal’s feet. 
In addition to weather-proof booties, sweaters or jackets that cover your dog’s chest will protect his most vulnerable areas, including his chest and vital organs.  My general rule of thumb is that if it's cold enough for me to wear a heavy winter coat, Max needs one as well. 
So the next time you're out and about in the winter and  see a dog dressed to the nines, know that it's about passion, not fashion.  You're getting a first-hand view of someone who loves their dog!!  And more than likely, a dog who loves their someone!
P.S. My two cents on the best booties
Being the type of mom who spares no cost when it comes to taking care of Max, I've tried most of the booties on the market.  From the $150, super, duper padded boots with velcro closures to the very simple rubber booties (click here to learn more) that look like balloons with the tops cut off,  Max has worn them all.  By far, my favorite - and Max's - are the latter.  While they are short on style, they are long on functionality, serving both me and Max well.  Truth is that Max takes no great pleasure when I'm putting them on him; however, once he gets outside and realizes how good his paws feel because he's not tip-toeing through the ice and salt, he becomes like a puppy again playing and frolicking in the snow.  And for me . . . I get the peace of mind I need knowing that he's safe and happy . . . and that I'm the best Max mom I can be!!
Credit: By Hope Schultz for WebVet
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