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Dr. Scott Sandeman

Dr. Scott Sandeman

Q: With this bitter cold, we are wondering how long we can let our Schnoodle stay outside to go to the bathroom?

I have friends at work that were worried about frostbite so they put piddle pads down in their basement so their dog didn’t have to go outside at all. Our dog won’t go in the house at all, and I’m afraid if I locked her in our utility room with papers or those pads she would be terribly uncomfortable.

Is it harmful to take our dog out or should we consider this weather an emergency and make her go inside?

A: We aren’t big fans of training or piddle pads for any dogs and cold weather isn't an exception. For puppies, it often just slows the training process down and makes it more difficult to keep them off similar materials as an adult when they should be going outside.

For owners with disabilities or those that have apartments or condos that prevent them from getting outside, there may be some benefit.

When it's 20 below zero, however, it IS an emergency and people and pets need to treat the weather with respect! Of course pets shouldn’t be confined at all outside in these temperatures without exceptional housing and, even then, a garage or basement is a safer, more humane option.

Dogs that normally go for long walks or runs with their owners should consider boots and an abbreviated exercise schedule.

Frostbite is a concern for everyone and needs to be considered for pets that must go out even for short periods of time. Those periods of time are variable depending on the wind chill and temperature, health and breed of your dog and protective coats or boots a pet needs or wears.

In most cases almost any dog — puppies too —  can tolerate the less than five minutes it should take for a dog to find the right spot and eliminate. Feet should always be inspected or, at a minimum, wiped clean of salt and de-icers. If owners can stand these short periods, pets can too.

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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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