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Cold Weather Dog Protection

Cold Weather Canine Equipment

Outdoor adventures with dogs is starting to make the turn from autumn crisp and dry to winter cold and wet.  Most dogs, like people, need some protection in winter to make their excursions more enjoyable and safer.  Even Iditarod runners get paw protection.  The bodies of dogs residing in warm weather locales like California don’t adequately get prepared for winter conditions like snow, ice, rain and bitter cold.  My experience is that dogs are not particularly fond of rain but absolutely love freshly fallen snow.  Something about the tactile snow experience brings out the puppy in them.  Chasing a snowball can be an interesting game when it disappears into a snow bank and the dogs frantically try to find it. 

Some dogs, like my Pit/Bulldog blend Boojum, dislike the cold and may need extra protection whereas others require little help to deal with adverse weather.  Zuni, our Siberian Husky, was in “hog heaven” when a Colorado storm dumped 28” in our backyard years ago.  He spent the entire day breaking trail and having what I believe was one of the most fun days of his life. 

No matter what you equipment you use on your dog, be sure to provide extra fuel for warmth and endurance.  Ideally, you would feed a high quality food about an hour or two before heading out.  Caloric intake should range between 5% to 10% more than the dog’s usual feeding per 10 degree temperature drop.  This is not an exact science.  I feed my dogs twice daily in equal amounts so if we are going to be out in the cold as opposed to hanging out around the house they get 1 ½ of the daily allotment in the meal prior to going out.  A good dehydrated or raw food is best since it is digests better and therefore delivers the calories more efficiently than kibble.

Here are some things to consider to ensure outdoor winter activities are enjoyable for you and your friend.  These products provide varying degrees of warmth and protection when used in their intended environments. 

Coats

Dog coats, vests and jackets are made for numerous specific conditions just as human outer ware is so be sure to choose one that fits your situation.  If you have an insulated vest designed for cold, dry applications and use it in a winter rain, you may end up with a soggy coat that no longer functions as expected. 

Generally speaking, sleeved coats are warmer than vests but can be more restricting so if freedom of movement is critical choose a coat with stretch fabric. 

Expectation of rain or wet snow calls for a waterproof or at least water repellant coat that sheds moisture from the upper and lower panels.

  • The Element Coat by EzyDog is a waterproof, fleece lined vest suited to lots of action.
  • Ruffwear’s Cloud Chaser is a four-way stretch fabric, breathable, sleeved coat with 3 layers.
  • Both coats offer shelter from wind and have reflective piping. 
  • In clear but cold conditions the Climate Changer fleece sleeved coat works well and is quick drying. 

Will the dog be in areas of dense shrub or woody thickets?  In this case you will need a coat that can withstand abrasions. 

  • For warmth and protection, the K-9 Overcoat is a good choice. 
  • If cold temperatures are not an issue but abrasion protection is then go for the Body Guard Protective Field Vest. The Body Guard is super-tough, constructed of 500 denier cordura rip stop nylon with an added layer of black 500 denier cordura nylon for the chest and body plate.  Visibility colors and made in USA. 

Bitter cold is best fought with an insulated jacket. 

  • The Quinzee is filled with synthetic Thermore™ insulation. This insulating layer traps the dog’s core body heat keeping them warm in extreme cold temperatures.  Includes an integrated stuff sack. 

While not technically a cold weather coat, a brightly colored, reflective jacket is a good idea in the low light of winter.  They usually make decent light rain shells as well and are inexpensive. 

  • The Ruffwear Track Jacket is very popular for this purpose and you can add a light to the jacket if you like 

Paw Protection 

Ice and snow can be problematic on a dog’s paws when it gets encrusted between the pads in addition to traction issues and chemicals such as de-icers.  

  • Polar Trex boots from Ruffwear provide excellent traction, extend higher up the dog’s leg than other boots and they are insulated.  There are many dog boots on the market but most of them don’t stay on well, wear out quickly or both.

 

 

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Dangerous Products from China

My first blog was going to be about dogs and cold weather, however, I feel I must address the ongoing deaths and illness thousands of dogs have experienced with treats from China.  I have been sourcing and purchasing dog food and treats for six years for our retail storefront and our online store animalgracellc.com. During this time we’ve had one unbreakable rule – we refuse to carry any food or treats either made in China or with ingredients processed in China.  Previous to my involvement in the pet industry, I conducted purchasing duties for an organic food company where I became informed about the dangers of Chinese products.

I am continually surprised at the number of Americans with dogs who insist on purchasing edibles  such as chicken jerky treats from China since the media coverage about the thousands of pet deaths over the past ten years from Chinese products has been extensive.  The 2007 melamine poisoning incident may have been the worst single case but numerous issues with Chinese products have occurred since.  These incidents of intentional ingredient tampering have taken place in food products for humans as well like the 2008 melamine-contaminated baby formula which, according to the Chinese government, caused over 54,000 babies to be hospitalized.  Apparently the “profit by any means” attitude remains intact as evidenced by this year’s “fake meat” scandal where fox, mink and rat meat was sold as mutton after being treated with toxic chemicals to disguise the true source.  The list of tampering schemes is lengthy and has no signs of abating anytime soon.  If Chinese criminals are willing to subject their own people to such risks, why would anyone believe they will not continue altering pet products sold to Westerners?  The current dog treat crisis in the US has sickened at least 3,600 dogs and killed 600, so far!

It is true that there are some shady practices in the US food industry but nothing approaching the corruption in China.  Even companies with high quality standards can discover a problem resulting in a recall.  Beyond the scope of the problem, my concern is how they handle the recall and steps put in place to prevent recurrence.  Any sign that the business attempts to sidestep the issue would cause me to eliminate them from consideration permanently.  What is so troubling about the Chinese incidents is that they resulted from intentional, deliberate tampering and falsification to increase their profit margin at the expense of the user regardless of the consequences.  These are people without a heart and we must stay vigilant to keep them out of our lives and the lives of the dogs and cats for whom we are responsible.

Protecting your pets from “poisoning by China” is so easy – just do not buy products made in China.  There are ways for unscrupulous companies to skirt the country of origin issue so some inferior products will get by us but the least we can do is to check the packaging for statements that the item was made in China.  The information to look for is typically in the bottom corner in very small text. You can take it one step further by checking the product website and even contacting the manufacturer concerning ingredient sourcing since an item can be listed as being made in one country but comprised of products from several others.  Case in point, I was interested in stocking a product containing wild-caught salmon but decided not to purchase it when I learned that the salmon was processed in China thereby increasing the risk of tampering.  I also suggest not doing business with companies that make any products in China even if the product in question is not.  The public needs to send a message to corporations that they are willing to spend their dollars exclusively with conscientious companies.

It may cost a bit more to buy food and treats not made in China but it could be one of the best purchasing decisions you ever make.  I limit my purchases to products made in the USA, Canada and New Zealand.  There are hundreds of dog food and treat alternatives so limiting your choices to a few countries is not only easy but will result in a safer, healthier product.

Brands we recommend include:

Honest Kitchen (USA)

Clear Conscience (USA)

Ziwi Peak (New Zealand)

Orijen (Canada)

K9 Kravings (USA)

Snooks (USA)

Himalayan Dog Chews (made in the Himalayan villages as opposed to Chinese factories)

Currently on the FDA list of treat recalls due to Chinese ingredient contamination:

Nestle Purina’s: Waggin’ Train Jerky Treats or Tenders and Canyon Creek Ranch Jerky Treats or Tenders

Del Monte Corp’s: Milo’s Kitchen Home-Style Dog Treats and Chicken Griller Home-Style Dog Treats

Publix stores recalled their own brand of : Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats

IMS Pet Industries Inc.: Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats sold in the US

Dogswell/Catswell: Duck or Chicken Jerky Teats with the “Best Before” date of  January 2015 (or any earlier date) [added October 28,2013]

Joey’s Jerky: Chicken Jerky, due to salmonella bacteria [added October 29, 2013]

Note: At Animal Grace we do have some ingredients originating in China which are components of the Herbsmith herbal blends but these are unprocessed and unavailable elsewhere.

About Animal Grace Dog Blog

Animal Grace LLC

Animal Grace LLC

Animal Grace Dog Blog from Animal Grace LLC – Active Dog Outfitters Dog Blog

At Animal Grace our goal is to provide dogs and their humans with ideas and products to enrich the lives of both and enhance the human/dog bond.  Some of my fondest memories are of adventures with the dogs in my life over 30 years of camping trips across the West.  Together, we explored the Canyonlands of Utah, fished high-country lakes of Colorado, hiked the wild beaches of Washington and British Columbia and camped in the deserts of California and Arizona.   From remote areas of Idaho and New Mexico to the beautiful, and dog friendly, Oregon coast we enjoyed dozens of trips lasting just a weekend to month-long roaming.

Dogs come alive in nature where their prodigious sensory abilities flood the brain with an endless stream of data about the plants, animals and weather around them.

They perceive their environment on a more visceral level than we do and to afford them the opportunity to truly “be dogs” is one of the kindest acts a human can bestow on a dog.  Witness the joy of a dog as she feels the sand on her paws, hears the bird’s sing or the coyotes howl, swims in the lake or sniffs out the reams of information left by other critters on the trail.

My intent in this blog and with the products we offer on our website is to foster a safe and productive experience for all involved.   I want to suggest ways to make it easier for you to get out there and chalk up your own memories.   We will also discuss nutrition, health, equipment and canine amusements among other topics.  In addition we will look into interesting destinations, camping areas, outdoor dog-centric sports and topics of general interest including, on occasion, outdoor products for humans. The scope will include concerns of daily life with dogs in our homes and workplaces.

Animal Grace, www.animalgracellc.com, consists of my wife and I along with our dogs – Chaco (Akita, Cattle Bog blend) and Boojum (American Bulldog/Pit/Catahoula?).   We created and operated Chama’s Dog Wash & Wellness for nearly 5 years and gained a reputation for carrying the best food and treats in town.  We also stocked the largest inventory of outdoor dog gear in San Diego which we now carry on our website at animalgracellc.com.  Some of the brands we have on our website include:

RuffWear     EzyDog     Granite Gear     WolfPacks     Mountain Dog     D-fa     NRG Dog Food

Alpine Outfitters     Herbsmith     Mushroom Matrix     and more