Pet Connection

Snow Dogs

Canines of all kinds love to play in snow, whether they’re born to it or not

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

They make snow angels, run circles, come skiing and snowshoeing, toss snow up with their noses and tunnel through it. Dogs of all kinds love to play in the snow, not just Nordic breeds such as Alaskan malamutes, Akitas and Siberian huskies, but any dog with cold-weather heritage -- and some you might not think of as snow lovers, including those on the smaller side. When the weather gets cold, these dogs are rarin’ to be out in it.

Afghan hounds have a reputation of being regal and dignified, but they turn into lighthearted clowns in snow, kicking it up as they run in circles and play-bow. Although they have long, thick hair, a coat is a good idea if they’re out for long periods.

Tibet is another mountainous country with a harsh climate. It’s no surprise that Tibetan mastiffs, with their thick double coats, enjoy wrestling in snow -- but don’t discount smaller Tibetan breeds. Tibetan spaniels relish romping in snow as much as their larger cousins. Mid-size Tibetan terriers, with large, round, flat feet that allow for traction and an easy stride in snow, rocket through the white stuff with glee.

The shiba inu, a spitz breed from Japan, hails from a mountainous area and has a thick undercoat for insulation from the cold. Snow brings out this breed’s playful nature as they run through it, flip it in the air and roll in it.

Serious herding and working breeds aren’t above a little snow play. Pyrenean shepherds and Great Pyrenees, both from the eponymous French mountain region, are right at home in snow and cold, ready for a winter hike any time you are -- as long as they’re conditioned for it, of course.

Corgis don’t care if the snow is over their heads; they just plow through, sometimes with only their ears sticking up. One of YouTube’s cutest videos is of a “train” of corgis lined up and pushing their way through snow drifts.

Irish water spaniels don’t limit themselves to liquid H2O. They kick up their heels in snow and stick their heads beneath it. Labrador and golden retrievers roll joyfully, kicking their legs up and making snow angels.

Of course, when it comes to snow play, spitz or Nordic dogs rule. Active people who want a dog for winter conditions can’t go wrong with a Finnish Lapphund, Finnish spitz, Icelandic sheepdog, Norwegian buhund or Samoyed. On the smaller side are Alaskan klee kai, American Eskimos and Pomeranians.

No matter what breed or mix your snow-loving dog is, some common-sense care tips will carry him safely through any polar vortex:

-- Provide a coat for dogs with single coats -- meaning they have no insulating underlayer -- slender bodies with little insulation from body fat, and dogs who are puppies, seniors or on the small side. These dogs will get cold more quickly or have a difficult time regulating body temperature.

-- Your dog doesn’t need booties for a brief play session in the yard, but consider them if you don’t want to remove ice balls or dry off feet, you’re walking on streets or sidewalks treated with salt or other deicing chemicals, or hiking for long periods in snow. If Iditarod dogs need them, your dog needs them.

-- Limit time in snow, especially if your snow-loving dog isn’t really built for cold conditions. Bring in little dogs, young or old dogs or those with short hair after 15 to 20 minutes -- or earlier if you notice they are shivering.

-- Offer shelter. Most Alaskan malamutes, Great Pyrenees and similar dogs would live in snow 24/7 if they could, and thrive in it, but they should always have access to a doghouse, shed or other protective area in case conditions go beyond their comfort zone.


Mold affects

humans and pets

Q: We discovered three weeks ago that our house has black mold, thanks to all the rain we’ve been having. Can that affect our pets? I’ve noticed that our 12-year-old pug has puffy eyes and is coughing and sneezing.

A: You bet! In fact, pets may be more susceptible to the ill effects of mold because they are often closer to it, being lower to the ground.

Evidence shows that in humans, exposure to indoor mold is linked to such symptoms as coughing and wheezing. While there’s no proven association for pets, they can experience similar signs. Humans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or asthma may have difficulty breathing when exposed to molds. It makes sense that pets with shortened muzzles, such as pugs or bulldogs, could also have difficulty breathing in this situation. Pets with allergies or suppressed immune systems may be more susceptible to the effects of molds as well.

Different types of molds are common in moist indoor areas. They come in through open doors or windows, heating and air conditioning systems, on clothing and even on pet paws, so there’s no real way to avoid them. If indoor moisture is excessive -- say you have leaks from rain, or your home floods -- molds can grow out of control.

Your veterinarian can determine if your dog’s signs are related to mold or asbestos exposure, some other type of allergen or asthma, and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

For long-term health of humans and pets in your family, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mold can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water or a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water (more bleach is not better). You will likely have to remove and replace carpets, insulation or wallboard in which mold is growing. -- Dr. Marty Becker

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Fuzzy math? What’s

behind pet stats?

-- How many dogs and cats are there in the United States? Numbers vary depending on who you ask and the statistical methods used, according a report last month in The Washington Post. The American Pet Products Association says 68 percent of U.S. households were populated by pets in 2016 -- 90 million dogs and 94 million cats -- while the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that only 57 percent of households had a pet at the end of 2016, with 77 million dogs and 58 million cats. That’s a substantial difference. Who’s right? And does it matter? Survey results can be thrown off if they’re not weighted for factors such as geography and gender, and opt-in versus randomized methods can affect results as well. Solid population numbers are important when it comes to tracking euthanasia rates, estimating feral cat populations and determining whether there are enough pets to meet demand. The bottom line? Based on 3 out of 4 surveys, pet numbers appear to be stable, not increasing.

-- The recently approved farm bill affects more than farming and food prices. According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, it also establishes the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program and the National Animal Vaccine and Countermeasures Bank and authorizes funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. The bill also expands federal protections for domestic violence victims to include pets, emotional support animals, service animals and horses; authorizes a federal grant program to help domestic violence victims find shelter and include veterinary care costs as part of restitution in some cases; and sets penalties for abusing pets.

-- Hamsters are naturally clean animals and spend much of their time grooming themselves. Hamsters that don’t groom themselves may be ill and should be checked by a veterinarian. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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