During the winter months, inside dogs can gain weight due to inactivity. Check the waistline, theirs and yours, and cut back on food if necessary. For dogs that are outside a fair amount during this cold weather, they need more and better food with higher calories and a good protein source.
Always feed twice a day. If your dog is a bit heavy, cut back a little at each meal. Never skip a meal. Twice a day feeding keeps the metabolism working and gives the dog something to look forward to. Particularly when it is cold, a hot meal at breakfast and dinner is welcome.
Even dry food can be heated in the microwave for a minute to add warmth on a cold day. Be sure there is plenty of fresh water both inside and out. Change it daily as it can get full of leaves or stay frozen all day. A walk or a car ride is always a welcome diversion.
Jonnie, the fly-ball lady, sent me this wonderful story about a dog that ate Christmas. Shortly before Christmas, this 15-pound dachshund ate 7 ounces of chocolate, 11 ounces of gourmet coffee and a marble. It does not matter how the dog happened to have access to those harmful things, but we should learn from this terrible experience that dogs are very clever about getting into things that are forbidden.
The $1,200 vet bill to save the dog, after a financially difficult year for the family, eliminated any hope of gifts. The family members were fussing about this each in their own way. One said the dog ate his new bike while dad said the dog ate the big screen TV they were hoping Santa would bring.
All were annoyed about the unfairness of it until they stopped to realize what life would have been like without this little dog and what all he had brought to their family.
The young son had an emotional problem which the dog quickly recognized and helped the boy conquer. The rest had learned about the amazing value of unconditional love and the joy that comes with a wagging tail greeting them when they come home from a long day.
They realized the value of having this little guy there who always cared about how they felt and always did his best to lighten their hearts. This little dog would not go to bed for the night until every family member was safe in their beds.
Theresa Willingham concluded, "Yes, our dog ate Christmas. But the gifts he's given us are priceless and more enduring than anything we could ever put under the tree and more than we could ever repay."
We should all stop and think about what our dogs and cats contribute to our lives. They are our most loyal, devoted and loving friends and companions, if we allow it. Do we deserve them?
With the cold and wet weather we have been having, it is important to remember the needs of our devoted pets. Even dogs with long coats need protection when outside.
Sled dogs that do live outside are fed a very high energy diet, which provides the needed insulation for their bodies and they are conditioned for the cold. Our dogs need to be inside. At the very least, they need an insulated, protected shelter that is up off of the ground and out of the wind.
Straw makes great bedding for dog houses. Thrift stores sell worn blankets very inexpensively for inside pet bedding, but these are not suitable for outside as when wet, they are very cold.
The Payson Humane Society is asking for our help in providing an off the ground bed for each dog in residence. Concrete floors are cold and hard.
The Adopt-A-Bed program makes it easy. There are two sizes - $47.50 for the smaller size and $49.50 for the large beds. A variety of beds were studied and these were chosen because they are chew proof, washable and virtually indestructible.
If you have access to the Internet, go to www.kuranda. com and then click on "Give the Gift of Comfort, Donate a bed." The directions from there are quite clear.If you do not want to go through the Internet, simply send a check to the Payson Humane Society, any amount would be welcomed, and note that it is for a Kuranda bed.
You can also buy a Kuranda bed for your own dog and a portion of the cost will be donated to the Payson Humane Society. The price is higher for us though. These beds can be used with or without additional cushions. I wonder if I could get three and stack them like bunks so I would not have dog cushions covering all available floor space.
Would you like to make some valentines? Feb. 7 -- 14 is "Have a Heart for a Chained Dog Week." What could you say that would make a difference to the owner of a chained dog? Drop your valentines (8 inches by 8 inches or smaller) at the humane society.
If you know of a chained dog, get the address and that dog and his owner will get a valentine, a treat and a little information about responsible pet ownership. There will be more information about this program next week.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.