Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat

summerdog

With temperatures and humidity rising now that we’re in the peak of Summer, it can get downright uncomfortable for us. Doubly so for our pets, where the hot weather can prove to even be dangerous for our furry friends. Here are some tips to help you and your pet stay safe in the Summer heat.

NEVER leave your pet in a parked car

Like with babies and young children, never ever leave your pet parked in a car. Not even if you leave the car running with the a/c on full blast. On a warm day like today the internal temperature of a car sky-rockets and can increase by over 50% in under 30 minutes. So, if it’s 90 degrees outside, the car will reach 108 degrees in 10 minutes, by 30 minutes, the internal temperature of that car has already hit 120 degrees.

Limit Exercise on Hot Days

While exercise is good for your pet and for you, take care when exercising your pet on hot days. If you still plan on exercising with your furry friend, make sure it’s during the early morning or in the evening hours, so that the heat of the day isn’t there. Additionally, take care if your pet has white colored ears, they’re at higher risk of skin cancer. Also, make sure to keep your pet on grassy areas if possible as the asphalt could burn the pads of their feet.

Watch the Humidity

It’s not just the temperature you have to keep an eye on with your pet, but also the humidity as well. Animals pant to evaporate the moisture in their lungs, which helps them to cool down. If the humidity is too high, they won’t be able to cool themselves because of the ambient moisture levels being the same or greater than that of their body. So keep that A/C and dehumidifier running and don’t rely on a fan, as animals react differently to heat than humans do, and a fan won’t cool them off as effectively as you or me.

Provide Shade and Water

Finally, if your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from the heat and sun as well as plenty of fresh, cold water. During heat waves, add ice to the water when possible. Tarps or tree shade are the best way to provide shade as it doesn’t obstruct air flow.

Well, hope this helps keep your pets cool when the heat is high, now if you’ll excuse me I have to go turn up the A/C!

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Keeping Your Backyard Chickens Cool This Summer

Well, it seems the weather in upstate NY has decided to skip Spring yet again and the Summer heat has already started to make us sweat. While this can be easily solved with A/C and fans for us, our chickens aren’t so lucky. Consistently high summer temperatures can cause your chickens to suffer from heat stress, overheating, and can even stop their egg laying process. For heavier breeds, high temperatures can even cause death. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to beat the heat and keep your chickens cool.

chickens at play

Add electrolytes to their water

Electrolyte tablets are important for when the temperature reaches the high peaks in Summer as they help prevent dehydration. You can find them on Amazon in bulk.

Avoid foods such as corn and scratch

Corn and scratch take a longer time for chickens to digest, which creates higher body heat. Instead, feed your chickens fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content, like watermelon to keep them cool.

Keep cold water available 24/7

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but is also the most important. Cold water will help the chickens to regulate their body temperature and keep them cool. Make sure it is always available to them and change out the water as needed.

Put a fan in the coop

This one might not always be possible without damaging the structure of the coop. However, if you’re able to do it, a small fan can circulate air and keep your flock cool in the summer months. One word of caution though, be careful about exposed wiring. Accidents can occur if exposed wiring gets wet or if your chickens break the wiring as you could end up with fried chicken.

Leave them alone

Interacting with your chickens can cause them to be more active and in turn, create more heat. On extremely hot days, try to leave them alone and only check on them as necessary.

Spray around the coop with cold water

Spraying around the coop and the roof can cause evaporation which will help cool off your chickens. You can also create small pools of water (or use a kiddie pool) for the chickens to wade in and keep themselves cool.

Frozen Gallon Jugs

If you don’t have a kiddie pool that you can use to keep your chickens cool, you can always make your own portable frozen water bottles. Take a spare gallon jug (milk jug will work), fill it with water, and then freeze it. Once it’s frozen solid, take it to your chicken pen, and bury it in a shallow hole in their favorite dusting spots. Place a small towel over the jug and let your chickens perch on it to cool down. Bonus points if you make sure to bury the jug in the shade.

We hope this helps to keep your chickens cool during the dog days of Summer. Be sure to let us know what tips you have yourself in the comments below!

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The Many Benefits of Backyard Chickens

chickens at play

Whether you consider yourself an urban socialite, a rural townie, or somewhere in between, keeping chickens can offer a wide variety of benefits. As it turns out, chickens aren’t just fluffy and fun little creatures, they’re also very healthy for you. From the nutritional benefit of free range eggs, to the great garden benefits, it’s no wonder that backyard chickens are gaining popularity quickly. Our finely feathered friends are more than a passing fad, they’re quickly becoming an asset to holistic, sustainable living.

Free-Range vs. Factory Farm

“Free Range”, “Cage Free”, Naturally Raised” the bevy of different labels on supermarket eggs these days can be confusing when trying to find the healthiest eggs. When you raise hens in your back yard, you know exactly where your eggs came from, and help save you money at the grocery store. Studies have shown that true free-range eggs contain higher levels of beta carotene, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins E and A. They’re also lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than conventional, store-bought eggs.

Natural Pest Preventative

Chickens also make a great alternative to pesticides for your gardens. Chickens are known to help reduce or eliminate common garden pests (grasshoppers, termites, fleas, ticks, and ants). They also eat various beetle pests that can do a lot of damage to your garden. However, make sure to put some chicken wire around your vegetables as chickens can do a lot of damage to a newly planted garden with their foraging and dust baths.

Chickens are Fantastic Recyclers

Table scraps, weeds, garden clippings; all of these can be cleaned up and broken down into beneficial nutrients for your soil by chickens. While you can’t feed them everything from the house, you can give your chickens most table scraps to supplement their every day food. Which leads us to our next benefit…

An excellent source of fertilizer

Poultry manure is considered one of the best fertilizers for gardens due to their high level of essential nutrients needed for plant growth as well as chicken manure is a rich source of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Additionally, chickens fully digest common weed seeds, so when you feed them weeds pulled from the garden, you don’t have to worry about them coming back next year when you use their manure. Having this rich source of fertilizer right in your back yard is a huge boon for gardeners as well as promotes a greener method of gardening without having to use chemically altered fertilizer. One thing to remember though, make sure to mix the chicken manure into a compost or other fertilizer mix as the high concentration of nitrogen can burn your soil if you’re not careful.

The Zen of Chickens

Watching chickens has been known to lower stress levels. Studies have shown that tending chickens releases oxytocin, often known as the “love” chemical. It’s the same one that gets released when we see a loved one or pet a dog or cat. This chemical not only lowers stress, but can help reduce blood pressure and decrease feelings of lonliness, which in turn can contribute to further lowering stress levels. Caring for chickens gets us outside regularly, and watching their methodical scratching and foraging around the yard helps to slow us down and ground us in the present, which can be a difficult thing to achieve in our busy day-to-day lives.

Additonally, chickens are now being used as therapy animals for people of all ages to address a wide variety of issues including dementia, Alzhimer’s, depression, and even autism. Their calming effect helps with symptoms like anxiety, emotional distress, and social frustrations.

Organizations are beginning to bring chickens to nursing homes to use as a therapy animal for memory loss patients. Agitation is a major issue with those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s and holding a chicken has been shown to calm them down.

Getting Started with Backyard Chickens

If you’ve decided that chickens are for you, a great place to start is by looking up websites like Backyard Chickens. You may even have a friend who keeps a backyard flock, and you could ask them to show you the ropes.

Next, it’s important to check with your local city ordinances or neighborhood regulations to make sure that backyard chickens are allowed and to find out the limit. Most cities allow 3-6 chickens and no roosters, but make sure to find out what your city allows.

Backyard chickens can help lead you to a richer, healthier life, and you reap the benefits, a richer garden and delicious fresh eggs!

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Scrapie: Sheep’s Silent Killer

Scrapie Sheep's Silent Killer

As all sheep producers know, Scrapie can be a extremely costly and disruptive disease to your flock. Its high infection rate can decimate a flock of sheep in a matter of months. Within a matter of years, the infected flocks continue to spread the infection to non-infected sheep and can make the whole flock economically unviable. The presence of scrapie in the US has inhibited us from exporting a majority of our breeding materials along with meat and by-products to many other countries. Recently, there has been an increased focus on scrapie and the other transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases which has led the US to form a full-fledged program to eradicate these diseases in the US.

History of The Disease

Scrapie was first recognized as a disease in sheep in Great Britain and other western european countries more than 250 years ago. To date, only two countries are completely free of scrapie; Australia and New Zealand, both of which, are major sheep-producing countries. In the US, the first case was diagnosed in 1947, where a Michigan farmer had imported British sheep through Canada for several years. From that first case to today, there has been more than 1000 flocks diagnosed with the illness.

Some Breeds Are More Susceptible

Studies have shown, that certain breeds of sheep are more susceptible to scrapie than others. The studies found that Suffolk and Cheviot are the most susceptible, but, that doesn’t mean other breeds aren’t affected by this illness. Scrapie has been found in almost every breed including Cotswold, Dorset, Finnsheep, Hampshire, Merino, Montadale, along with several crossbreeds.

Clinical Signs

Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment that your sheep can undergo for scrapie, however, if you catch the signs early enough, then you might be able to stymie it from spreading to the entire flock. Signs of scrapie vary widely among those it has infected, and signs can develop very slowly.

Early signs can include subtle changes in behavior or temperament of the infected. These subtle changes are usually followed by scratching or rubbing against fixed objects to alleviate the itching caused by the disease. Other signs could include loss of coordination, lip smacking, weight loss despite no loss in appetite, biting of feet and limbs, along with gait abnormalities.

Additionally, an infected animal may appear normal at rest, but if disturbed by a sudden noise, excessive movement, or stress from handling, the animal may fall down and appear to have convulsions.

Transmission

Scrapie is spread through fluid and tissue from the placentas of infected females. Which means that the disease can spread to an infected female’s offspring at birth as well as to other animals that are exposed to the same birth environment. Males can contract scrapie, but they cannot transmit the disease to other animals. A sheep’s genes affect both its susceptibility to the disease and the length of the incubation period.

What You Can Do

Sheep with certain genetic types are more resistant to scrapie than others. Blood tests can determine the genetic profile of a sheep. Producers that want to minimize the risk of scrapie in their flock can consider selective breeding for genetic resistance to this detrimental disease. However, even genetic resistant sheep can still be infected with scrapie.

Additionally, good food management and bio-security practices such as individual animal identification, record keeping, quarantining sick animals, clean birthing environments, and equipment disinfection practices can help reduce the environmental risks of infecting your livestock.

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10 Surprising Facts About Sheep

With lambing season right about to start, we figured it was appropriate to present some fun and surprising facts about sheep. Hope you enjoy!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a sheep?

Despite a recent decline in domestic sheep production within the US. The US still imports around 40% of its lamb and mutton from abroad. Most of the 162 million pounds of imported meat actually comes from down under! That’s right, most of our meat is imported from Australia and New Zealand, the two largest lamb and mutton exporters in the world.

Oh give me a home! Where the sheep and lamb roam!

In the U.S the states with the highest number of sheep per capita are Texas, Wyoming, and California. However, more than two-thirds of domestic sheep call the Southern Plains, the Mountain and Pacific regions their homes.

Where’s the mutton?

Did you know that lamb is the least amount of meat consumed in the US? The average American consumes 86 pounds of chicken, 65 pounds of beef, 50 pounds of pork, and only 1 pound of lamb per year. I guess why the saying is “where’s the beef?” and not “where’s the mutton?”

Like A Steel Trap

Sheep have amazingly good memories. They can remember at least 50 different people and other sheep. They’re able to do this using a similar neural process and part of the brain that humans use to remember people.

I’m not as dumb as I look

Contrary to popular belief, sheep are actually extremely intelligent for their species. They’re capable of problem solving and have a similar IQ level to cattle, and are nearly as clever as pigs. Looks can be deceiving, a farm is a smarter place than most people realize.

More sheep than people

Currently, there are approximately 34.2 million sheep on New Zealand. That’s enough to outnumber the humans living there seven to one! That’s quite the population, good thing sheep aren’t predators. However, back in the 80′s, this figure was even higher, with sheep outnumbering people 22 to 1! That’s a lot of sheep.

Top-notch vision

Sheep have amazing peripheral vision. Their large, rectangular pupils allow them to see in almost perfect 360 degree vision. They can even see behind themselves without even turning their heads. At least they never have to wonder if they have something on their back.

Spanish Sheep

In the 15th century, Spanish Merino wool was so highly prized, that the wool trade is what funded the conquistador expeditions, including Christopher Columbus’ expedition to the new world. Because this wool was so highly prized, exporting Merino sheep from Spain was punishable by death.

A Bond Between a Ewe and a Lamb

Female sheep, known as ewes (pronounced You-s) are very caring mothers and form deep bonds with their offspring. A ewe can recognize her lamb’s bleats when they wander too far away from the herd.

A gourmand’s best friend

Mutton and lamb is widely eaten around the world and is often used in gourmet dishes because of the delicateness of its taste. Additionally, sheep’s milk is widely used in gourmet cheeses (such as feta and romano).

 

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Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Kitten-indoor-playtime

The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan on including their furry counterparts in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is extremely important to try to keep your pet’s routines as close to normal as possible during the holiday madness. Also, for your safety (and sanity) and theirs, make sure to be careful with how far you go with your holiday decorations. Here are some tips to make sure your pets have a safe and happy holidays with the rest of the family.

Secure Your Christmas Tree

Make sure you securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water from spilling which can cause your pet to get sick.

No Meeting Under The Mistletoe

Mistletoe and Holly can be poisonous or sometimes deadly to your furry holiday companions. Opt for safer artificial plants made of silk or plastic, or a pet-safe bouquet.

Wires, and Batteries, and Ornaments Oh My!

Keep wires, batteries, and glass or plastic ornaments outside of a paw’s reach. Wires could give your animal a potentially lethal electric shock, and a punctured battery can cause severe burns to their mouth and esophagus, while shards of broken ornaments, outside of being a pain to clean up can be a safety hazard to your pets’ paws.

No Desert for Fido

Of course, it’s a no brainer to never feed your pets chocolate or anything sweetened with xylitol, but, to make sure your pets don’t get into anything they’re not supposed to, make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Careful With The Adult Beverages

If your celebration includes some extra booze in the eggnog or other cocktails, be sure to place your drinks where pets can’t get to them. Alcohol can put your pets into a coma which can ultimately lead to death.

I know this sounds extremely gloomy for the holidays, but making sure your pets are safe can make sure your pets help you bring in the holidays without worrying about what trouble they can get into.

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Rainy Day Fun With Your Cat

Kitten-indoor-playtimeWith Fall now in full swing, the rainy days have once again come to Upstate New York. However, just because you want to curl up with your favorite blanket and binge the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix, doesn’t mean that your feline friend wants to as well. So, here are some great ways to entertain yourself and your cat at the same time. Plus, you get to add to the multitudes of cat videos on social media.

The Treasure Hunt

Cats are hunters by nature, so an excellent way to stimulate your cat is to set up a treasure hunt for your indoor cat. You can hide special treats for your cat inside puzzle feeders for your cat to discover. Also, spread a few around the house so that they never know when they’re going to find a treat. This is a great option to break up boredom for the cats when left home while their humans are at work.

The Agility Course

Creating a homemade agility course for your cat sounds complicated but actually isn’t at all. Start by making a paper bag tunnel and then give them a treat when your cat goes through it. Then add a second obstacle, then a third, and so on. Cats love being active and love the exercise. More important though, is to make it fun and stress-free, for yourself and for the cat. One of the nice things about a homemade agility course is that you can customize it as you see fit and build it to match your cat’s physical abilities.

The Paper Bag

One of the great things about cats is that it doesn’t take much to entertain them. Sometimes, all you need is a paper bag and they’ll be entertained for hours on end. One thing you can do is take 3 or 4 and put them around the room and sprinkle a little catnip inside the bag and watch your cat dive, pounce and generally act silly.

iPad Playtime

If you’re feeling particularly tired from the day, you can also set up an app (yes, they have apps for cats) that lets them hunt after bugs and fish. Some of the apps, even interact when the cat catches a fish or bug.

Whatever indoor games you decide to set up with your cat, keep in mind that your furry feline friend was born to move, and they have highly tuned senses. While it’s important to keep them safe indoors, it is also very important to provide them with adequate stimulation and environmental enrichment. After all, indoor games and activities may go a long way in preventing behavior problems down the road due to boredom or separation anxiety.

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How to Prepare for a Summer Road Trip with Pets

dog in windowSummer is all about having fun, right? But when you plan your summer road trip, there’s more to it than just packing up your stuff and driving away. Your pets need to be planned for as well! Make sure your pets are comfortable and taken care of for your vacation by following these tips for summer road trips!

Familiarize yourself with animal travel gear

Responsible passenger, wearing his seatbeltIf you’ve never traveled with your pet before, pay close attention to this tip. Having the right pet travel gear is a must for long trips! First step is to go and visit the local pet store to see what types of harnesses they have. Look for a dog harness with a handle on top, which makes it easier to walk with your dog as well as strap your animal in the car by running the seat belt strap through the harness handle. Just remember – a harness might be uncomfortable for your pet to wear for the first time, so make sure you give them lots of praise and treats!

Check your pet’s health prior to traveling

Niya @ the vet'sBefore taking your pet on a long road trip, have them examined at the vet for any health conditions. You want to make sure that your pet is updated on all of their shots and vaccinations, especially if you’re traveling to an area that will have other animals your pet might be in contact with. Finally, stocking up on your dog’s medications is a great way to ensure you’ll be prepared throughout your travel, especially if the trip ends up lasting longer than anticipated.

Test your pet in the car

It was, apparently, an exhausting weekend!If your pet has never really traveled in the car for long periods of time, you want to test out their behavior over time. Practice by taking pretend road trips that are in short bouts of time, but are long enough to test your pet in the car. During these short trips, check your pet to see if they’re nervous or are drooling excessively or panting. If this is happening, you might want to consider treating your dog with anti-nausea medication for the real trip to prevent over-heating or discomfort.

Potty-train

Tongues outIf you’re bringing a very young animal on your trip, it might be more difficult simply due to potty-training. If your animal hasn’t yet learned to use the restroom on command, you might want to make this a priority before your road trip. While you might be able to pull over every hour to make sure your animal doesn’t go in the car, you’ll be more efficient and effective if you can hold off stopping that often and having inner peace knowing your dog can hold it for longer.

Toys

southbound MA to FLALastly, don’t forget to bring the toys for your road trip! Toys will help keep your pet occupied and more comfortable on the long trip. They’ll also help to be distracting during any potentially stressful situations in the car.

 

 

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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It’s National Pets Are Wonderful Month!

April is officially Pets Are Wonderful Month (PAW), a time to honor the animals that bring love and happiness to our lives. There’s no question that our pets give us love and companionship daily, but they are also benefit our physical and mental health too.

Research has shown that pets can improve our cardiovascular health, reduce stress, decrease loneliness and depression, and facilitate social interactions among people who have pets. That’s why pets are so frequently used in nursing homes, for people with disabilities and children with autism. Here are five benefits of having a pet:

Good for the heart

In one study, people who never owned a cat were 40 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who did. Another study showed that people who owned dogs had a significantly better survival rate after one heart attack. In general, pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiovascular disease than non-pet owners. Owning pets has also show to lower your blood pressure too.

Natural mood enhancers

Pets are natural mood enhancers; just a few minutes of watching your cat or dog play will instantly reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Therapists have even prescribed pets as a way of dealing with depression. Because no one loves you more unconditionally, or listens to you talk without interruption, than your pet. Having a pet can brighten even the worst of days!

Better physical fitness

While this one may be a given, people who have pets tend to be more physically active and less obese than those who don’t. And exercising with your pet will benefit both of you! Just two 15-minute walks a day will ensure you meet the minimum recommendations for physical activity. Plus, who makes a better exercise buddy than your four-legged friend?

Social interaction

Having an active social life is key to staying healthy. And pet owners have a tendency to interact with other pet owners. A dog is an instant conversation starter. Bring your furry friend to the local dog park and the social interaction will blossom.

Sense of security

Pets also provide us with a sense of security. Dogs in particular can alert us of potential hazards and intruders. They can also seek help in emergencies. For example, the “seizure dog” has been trained to live and work with people who have epilepsy. They bark to alert parents when a child is having a seizure. Some even lie next to a person having a seizure in order to prevent injury.

Here at Ketchum, we were thrilled to find out that April was National Pets Are Wonderful month. So, get out there and hug your furry friends today. We sure will!

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Preventing Hypothermia and Frostbite in Dogs

As the temperatures continue to drop into the lowest temperatures of the season, we’ve all started to pull out the warmest of sweaters, socks and any other accessory that will shield us from the cold. Unfortunately for our pets, there’s not much they can do to protect themselves from the freezing temperatures like we can. Hypothermia and frostbite are two of the most common winter problems that your dog can suffer from, which is why it’s important for you to know the facts and how to prevent these problems from happening to your beloved pet!

What causes frostbite?

DogFrostbite is the name given to tissue damage that’s caused by exposure to extremely cold conditions. In order for dogs to conserve their heat, they reduce the amount of blood flow to the peripheral parts of his body, such as his ears, paws and tail. Without blood in these areas, they lack warmth and oxygen and as a consequence, ice crystals may form in the tissue which can then cause that tissue to die.

Symptoms of frostbite

The difficulty with frostbite in dogs is that because dogs are covered in hair, it’s challenging to find areas that might be impacted by it. The signs to really look out for are very pale skin, usually found on the belly area, which will be very cold to the touch.

You’ll also notice that once the skin starts to warm up, it will become red and swell, which will also prove to be very painful for your pet. After just a few days, the skin will then become dry and will appear to be scaly.

How to treat frostbite

Trapper in the SnowIf you notice an area on your dog that you think might be frostbite, bring your pet to a warm area and put heat on the area immediately. Most importantly for frostbite, make sure that you resist the urge to rub or massage the affected area since rather than helping, you’d really be hurting your pet, releasing toxins that can further cause damage to the tissue.

Call your vet and describe the severity of the frostbitten area. The vet can then determine whether it’s better for you to bring your dog into the office or if it’s better for you to stay home and monitor him for the next few days. If you do see your vet, they will likely prescribe your pet pain killers and antibiotics to help ease your dog’s pain and look at removing any dead tissue.

What causes hypothermia?

Sally in the snowHypothermia occurs when your dog’s temperature falls and stays below its normal range of 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When a dog is suffering from hypothermia, this means that he is losing body heat faster than he can replace it. This can happen when you’re walking your dog outside or even when he’s playing around outside in the backyard during the winter.

Symptoms of hypothermia

  • shivering;
  • lethargy;
  • muscle stiffness;
  • lack of coordination;
  • low heart and breathing rates;
  • fixed and dilated pupils;
  • collapse;
  • coma.

How to treat hypothermia

Wee Westie Under Wraps

In order to treat your dog for hypothermia, you must focus on warming them up so that their core temperature returns to normal. If you’re walking with your dog and notice he is suffering from the cold temperatures, you need to immediately prevent him from losing any further body heat by picking up your dog and running him into the house (if he’s small enough!) or walk quickly back to the house to warm up.

Once you’re in a warm environment, make sure you’re in a heated room where the floor is well insulated and find a blanket to wrap your dog in. It would be ideal to keep him in this position until his internal temperature returns to normal. If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t fret, as long as you pay close attention to him and get him to the point where he’s no longer shivering and appears to be acting normal again, it’s a pretty good indication that your dog’s temperature is back up.

The next time you’re getting bundled up to take a long walk with your pup, remember that while you might be able to go the distance in the cold weather, they might not be able to go quite as far. By reading the information above and preparing your pet for the cold, you now have the knowledge necessary to keep your furry friend safe from hypothermia and frostbite!

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