Dog days of winter | AspenTimes.com

Dog days of winter

Abigail Eagye

Frigid temperatures can be hard on pets. So can holiday food. (Charlies Agar/The Aspen Times)

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Temperatures are expected to hover around freezing over the holiday weekend, and that can spell danger for pets. Dr. Darlene Berkovitz of Aspen Animal Hospital reminded people to keep pets inside or in a heated garage during cold weather.But freezing temperatures aren’t the only thing that can wreak havoc on pets during the holidays. “Mainly it’s pets getting into food – cookies, brownies, dinner,” Berkovitz said.After eating an entire chocolate cake, one dog arrived at her office for an emergency cake-ectomy. The staff had to induce vomiting in the dog, who, Berkovitz said, will probably be all right. But the whole episode could set the owner back several hundred dollars.Berkovitz said she hasn’t seen any Christmas decoration-related injuries, but it’s a good idea to keep pets away from unattended trees or to hang ornaments higher up if an owner can’t trust his or her pet – dogs or cats.”Kittens are so playful, they try to play with all that stuff,” she said.Although poinsettias are technically toxic to cats, Berkovitz said they mainly cause vomiting. But it’s good to be aware that the plants can cause problems if you see your cat chowing down on them.Other injuries Berkovitz sees are cuts on dogs who got too close to their owner’s skis on outdoor excursions. Berkovitz said most people tend to be careful when taking their dogs skiing or hiking with them, but it’s a good idea to be aware that a ski’s sharp edge can hurt a dog and to watch for signs of frost-bite, especially after the sun goes behind the mountain. A dog that’s constantly picking up its paws might need to go inside.Doggie jackets might seem like they’re just for fun in fashion-conscious Aspen, but some breeds actually need the extra warmth.”For some dogs, it seems to be necessary,” Berkovitz said. “I know they’re silly, but a lot of the short-hair dogs seem to shiver. But if you put a sweater on them, they’re OK.”And when it comes to a quivering pooch, size really doesn’t matter. Some larger breeds with short hair, such as Great Danes, greyhounds and boxers, can get as chilly as a Chihuahua.But there’s no need to humiliate some of the more “hearty” breeds with a puppy poncho. Berkovitz said the most popular dogs in the area, labs and golden retrievers, are naturally prepared for inclement weather.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is aeagye@aspentimes.com