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Old 09-30-2011, 01:57 PM
Location: Out West
20,595 posts, read 15,415,894 times
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Ok. Laugh if you will but I really don't know the answer.

Those of you who have dogs, especially, I'd like to know what you do.

Since I've been told that it snows so much in Maine, that it's horribly cold and I always hear this when people ask me where I moved from and that no, I have not gone through a Maine winter yet, (but have gone through winter in other places)...


I would like to know, those of you who have dogs and take your dogs out during the winter time to go hiking or even for walks, do you do anything special to/with your dogs?

What I mean is, I'm realllllllllly NOT in to dressing up my dogs, I think it's kinda silly, frankly, but, do they need boots to protect their feet from the ice, snow and salt?

And what about temps? Is it really THAT cold? My dogs have short to medium length fur so I always figured they would be warm enough but now I'm starting to wonder. Does anyone actually put on a dog coat on their dogs?

Or would my dogs be perfectly fine as they are? If I were to go hiking/walking with them for a few hours, will their feet be ok and will they be warm enough?

I think about sled dogs and how I see them wear boots so I feel this is not totally stupid to ask.

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Old 09-30-2011, 02:13 PM
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I'm not a Mainer (yet) but we do get our share of winter in NY state so maybe I can help a little. We have three dogs. The German Shepherd and beagle love the snow/cold and are just fine out in it to play or walk, etc. The third is a poodle-mix, 10lbs soaking wet, lol! We're not the 'dress up the dogs' type either, but per our vet's instruction we have to put a winter coat on the little one when she goes out to do her business, once the temps get below ~20 degrees. And of course, we don't walk her too far in the winter! She just can't handle the cold. If the bigger dogs have been walking on areas where roads have been salted we clean the bottoms of their paws when they come in, so it doesn't irritate them or get between the pads of their feet, etc.

So, I would say what you can do with them in the winter, and what precautions to take will probably depend on what kind of dogs they are. Hope this helps!
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:51 PM
Location: Out West
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Thanks for replying.

I have lab mixes. What they are mixed with, I haven't a clue. Some people say a DNA test works, some say it's horse puckey so I haven't done one yet. Maybe I will some day.

Anyway, clearly they are mixed with something smaller because the boy is 46 pounds, (over a year old), and the girl is 24 pounds. These are brother and sister dogs.

Like I said, their fur is short to medium length. Short near the back end, mediumish length near their necks.

They have never been in the snow, ever. They have never experienced temps below 40 degrees. (It would get that low in Jan, Feb or March in Miami sometimes and did this past year.) But they have never experienced real cold, snow or ice. And they've never had salt on their feet.

I take them hiking sometimes and they do ok with "rugged" terrain like small rocks and uneven ground but again, it's not cold.

If I were to let them run around in the yard for a good half an hour with 3 feet of snow, I'm sure they would be fine.

But I'm thinking more along the lines of when I want to take them somewhere like hiking or for really long walks. Sure, they aren't sled dogs mushing along hundreds of miles a day but they would be out in that for a good 3-5 hours.

Is it necessary? Or would I be one of those people that I laugh at if I get them dog boots?
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:06 PM
Location: Limerick Maine
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I am going to winter in AZ before my final move to Maine this spring, so the winter of 2012-13 will be my first full winter there and have wondered how my dogs will handle it, I have to shelties, brother and sister. Here in colorado there have been mornings I have let them out and it is SO cold that after just a minute or 2 they are limping back towards the door with ice balls covering their feet, this only happens a very few times each winter here where it is cold enough to do that.

I have watched the weather in Maine for years knowing someday I would be back there for good, and really there is not much difference in the amount of snow that Maine gets compared to colorado. One of the major differences that I have seen is here in colorado it can be -10 one day, and the next day its plus 40 and because of our high altitude here we can be outside in short sleeve shirts and perfectly comfortable, I dont think that happens in Maine to much does it? But colorado dosnt have 4 season either, we have basicly summer, a few cool days and then come haloween winter is usualy here, reverse it in the spring. I worry about my dogs to but will have to cope with it when the time comes I guess.
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:40 PM
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I'd wait and see how the dogs react to the snow. They may love it, or they may not. Once you see what they are doing, then you will know how to help them enjoy it more.
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:50 PM
Location: Forests of Maine
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Most dogs that live outside, are fine with the weather changes. Their bodies adjust.

Indoor/outdoor dogs will adjust also, but not as much.

With indoor dogs: short trips outside will be fine. For outdoor activities of longer than an hour you need to just watch them, to see how they are doing. Until they have adjusted and you feel confident.

We have had dogs that preferred to stay outside. Curl-up on a snow bank and sleep kind of dogs. We have also had dogs that only wanted out for 30 minutes.
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:10 PM
Location: Ellsworth
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Our doodle loves winter. LOVES WINTER. He hates having snowballs form between his toes though. We've tried mushers wax and that helps. I don't think he would wear booties or I would try them. The chihuaha papillon also loves winter but obviously can't do deep snow or bitter cold. He wears a coat and if it's bitter rides in his puppy pack. We x-country ski for hours on the lake with no difficulty and they sleep like logs after
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:09 PM
Location: Maine
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Can you see or feel a difference in their coats? It might be subtle this first year. It should be getting denser as what's called an undercoat grows in. Only one of my dogs is getting his winter coat so far.

I wipe their feet if they've walked on rock salt or quick melt.

I agree with everyone else. Watch them. If they start to shiver or look uncomfortable it's time to go in. You'll have fun watching them when you open the door and they run out into their first snow!
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:31 PM
Location: Northern Maine
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I was the first registered Maine guide to guide with a sled dog team. Each of my dogs was outdoors year round. Each had a plastic barrel for a dog house with fresh straw in the barrel. The dogs chose to curl up in the snow as a wolf or coyote does.

Each dog had two holes in the snow. If it warmed up enough so the dog melted into the snow he would get up and move over to the other hole. The only time they went into the barrels was when it rained. Then they just scowled out at the world.

(Don't do this with your peekapoo.)
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:44 PM
Location: Out West
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As far as their coats...the only thing I've noticed and that happened shortly after we moved here...well, back story a tiny bit:

I got them spayed and neutered last October. In Miami, it is HOT. (In case you hadn't heard.) That area where they were shaved for their trimmings never really grew back. They were bald there.

We moved here and they started to finally grow some fur back in around June. It's really slowed down and it's still not fully filled in. (Wish it would hurry UP already!)

Other than that, their coats look the same. But, as you said, maybe the first year it won't catch on.

Also, I want to reiterate that I'm talking about hiking. For the back yard, sure, I would let them out and if I see them start to shiver or look like they are cold, easily brought back in.

But if we are out, hiking, a good half an hour away from the car, I can't bring them back immediately, hence the question about the boots. Or heck, even a coat. (I can't believe I'm typing that.)

For example, say, in January or February, (if it's even open, I haven't yet checked), I want to take a friend who is planning to visit over to Acadia National Park. Naturally the dogs will go with me. We would be hiking for at least two or three hours, half of that away from the car. If they start to get really cold or their feet start getting too cold...I'm not going to be able to easily carry a 45 and 24 pound dog in my arms back to the car.

I was just wondering if it does get cold enough that some people in Maine do that for their dogs? I don't have a problem getting them boots for when we hike, (and I suppose a coat if I must), I just don't want to be the laughing stock in Maine and have everyone think I'm one of "those" people, one of "those outsiders". Dang it, I forget what people called them again.

I'm considering it at least boots wise since it's their first winter ever, (real winter, not fake winter like Miami), was just wondering if it really does get *that* cold.

And yes! The first time it snows? I cannot wait to open that door and watch as they bound outside!

"Hurray! We're outsi......wait...wha...?????"

I'm going to be snapping some serious photos and figure out the video on my camera. It should be a riot.

These are my dogs:

At the rest stop when you first enter Maine! =)
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