My mother went out and bought me a coat to wear when it snows.
I'm not a fan, but I can deal with it.
But then she bought me boots.
Really? I have gone my whole life without wearing any clothes other than my collar and I have done just fine.
But she tells me that we are moving to some really cold place next and that I need to have a coat to keep the snow off my coat and boots to protect my feets.
And then she showed me this article, in the Wall Street Journal, which is apparently an important newspaper and apparently says she is right.
But that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.
Ready For the Dog Days of Winter?
Is a $175 Bella Lucca faux mink coat for dogs medically necessary?
Pricey couture is optional, but some breeds do need outerwear in the winter, veterinarians say. Small, short-haired, inactive dogs without a thick fur undercoat are more susceptible to cold weather.
Breeds include the Chihuahua, dachshund, Boston terrier, shih tzu, bichon frise, miniature pinscher and the xolo, a Mexican hairless dog.
"There's no question in winter with rain, snow and ice that these dogs are more at risk because of their size and inability to keep body heat," says Rene Carlson, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Normal dog body temperature runs 101 to 102 degrees. A drop in body temperature of five or six degrees can put dogs at risk of low blood pressure and kidney damage, as well as decreased blood flow to the liver and brain, which can possibly lead to hypothermia.
Elderly or ailing animals may need to don extra layers, regardless of their breed, says Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
There are plenty of pet apparel purveyors these days. Outdoor retailer REI sells $40 "Adventure Dog Boots" with recycled tire rubber soles, while etsy.com offers a crocheted acrylic/wool cap for toy breeds.
Bigger breeds bred for outdoor life and work, such as the Labrador retriever, German shepherd and Siberian husky, typically can stick it out in the buff, so long as they are active on walks or have a sheltered spot with lots of bedding and a nutritious, plentiful diet if left outdoors, vets say.
"When we think of the working and sporting dogs, these are the ones less likely to need protection," Dr. Zawistowski says. "Lap dogs need it the most."
Useful garb may include: wool and polyester sweaters, fleece or waterproof jackets and booties to protect from ice and salted streets and sidewalks. Indoors, extra layers can help, too.
There are also bed warmers, such as the Pet-zzz-pad, an American Kennel Club-licensed item, with cords encased in steel chew-resistant casing.
Less useful, Dr. Carlson says: hats and goggles, which can throw off an animal's equilibrium. "Dogs have a very good blinking response and a third eyelid that comes up if there's need for protection."
Keeping Fido warm doesn't have to cost a fortune. A child's sweatshirt from a thrift shop cut to fit and bundled under a dog's belly with a zip tie can do the trick.
"When you're spending $250 on a designer coat, that's so you can be seen with the dog in the coat, not for the dog," says Dr. Zawistowski says.
This was in a side box:
Ice-Melt Poses Pet Risks
When protecting dogs from harsh winter conditions, don't overlook the paws.
Rock salt (sodium chloride), a common ice-melting agent, can irritate pets' paws, mouths and gastrointestinal systems and trigger seizures when ingested in large quantities.
Alternative ice- and snow-melt products, with names like "Safe Paw," "Safe-T-Pet" and "Ice Melt for Pets," may be less irritating, but still can pose risks. Some include magnesium, calcium, potassium or urea, which also can pose problems when consumed in large amounts, says Camille DeClementi, senior toxicologist for the Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"We worry that if pets ingest a fair amount, it will change the electrolyte balance in their bloodstream," Dr. DeClementi says. Among the possible effects: dehydration, kidney failure, heart arrhythmia and seizures.
What puts pets at risk? Piling product on sidewalks rather than sprinkling as directed, or accidentally leaving open bags where they're accessible to pets. In cases of concentrated ingestion, a urea or calcium-based product generally poses less risk than products with other common ingredients, Dr. DeClementi says.
She recommends wiping pets' paws down after walks and keeping fur between paw pads trimmed but not too short. If an animal exhibits lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, twitching or trembling, call the veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and have product label nearby for reference.
Happy Mother's Day!
6 years ago