Your running companion has a short list for Christmas — a new tennis ball (at least until the old one shows up next spring under the lilac bushes) and a bottomless treat jar.

What’s missing from this jogger’s list is a pair of Nike Extreme running shoes, a warm-up suit with an Olympic logo and wireless headphones to drown out the traffic noise.

This means that taking your dog as your running buddy is easy and can (and should) be a year-round activity. Here are some points to remember to keep your four-legged jogger safe and healthy this winter:

1. If you are cold, it’s a safe bet your dog is too! While a goose-down jacket isn’t necessary for your Weimaraner, a sweater or waterproof jacket can keep the chill off. Heavy-coated dogs will require less clothing but rain-soaked fur will drastically lower body temperature. Keeping dry is imperative.

2. Always pay careful attention to paws as ice, chemicals, cracked pads or damaged nails can occur in colder weather. After a run, a thorough wipedown is in order, concentrating on the feet first.

3. Be safe! Reflective collars, leashes and a microchip can prevent lots of issues. Be especially careful that a pet frightened by traffic noise or another neighborhood dog doesn’t slip its collar. Ice on sidewalks and semi-frozen ponds carry a risk to everyone and should be avoided at all times.

No matter what precautions you might take, cold weather may lead to problems. Excessive shivering, weakness, moving slow or even anxiety can be an indication your pet is suffering from hypothermia and you should notify your veterinarian. In some cases, bitter cold temperatures should suggest staying inside altogether. After all, someone needs to work on their Christmas list!

Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to papertrained@mchsi.com. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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