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Furry friends find winters bearable at Erickson Living

Created date

November 23rd, 2010

Unless you have a hairy huskie, your pet probably shudders (and shivers) at the word winter. Not only can cold weather cause dry, chapped paws and aching joints, when it keeps you inside Fido misses his daily jaunt too. Not at Seabrook and Cedar Crest, Erickson Living communities in Tinton Falls and Pompton Plains, N.J., respectively.

Safe surroundings

I have a sweater for Lovey and take him out on at least one walk a day, Mary Alice Smith says of her 15-year-old Shih Tzu. Smith says living at Seabrook makes winters easier, especially for Lovey. She lives in a first-floor apartment, where she has direct access outside, so it s easy for me to get him in and out. The community s 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week maintenance keeps her patio and the designated pet path clear of snow and ice. Additionally, she takes Lovey to the community s pet park where he romps and frolics with other small dogs. This is a very good place to have animals, says Cedar Crest s Doris Anzelone. Her four-pound Chihuahua, Tia, enjoys running around outside from Anzelone s patio during warmer weather. In the winter, Tia wears a tiny coat and stays cozy in her warm home. Owners must leash their pet in hallways and common areas. Owners are also responsible for cleaning up after their pet as a courtesy to their neighbors and the community. As for size restrictions, Smaller animals are preferred, but if a resident has a larger pet before moving in, they can still keep it, says Erica Zayat, Cedar Crest s community resources manager.

Club camaraderie

At Seabrook, the Pet Club qualifies as another perk. During their monthly meetings (excluding holidays), neighbors and pet owners discuss the ups and downs of pet ownership. The club frequently invites a guest speaker, such as a local veterinarian or the community s minister for an annual pet blessing, but the biggest benefit, says Smith, comes from camaraderie. It s nice to be able to talk about your pet with other people, she says, because not everyone you meet wants to hear about your pet. Murphy and Bob Judge socialize their Shih Tzu-poodle Nunzio with other pet club members, including Smith and Lovey. He s so happy all the time, Smith says of Nunzio. The Judges key to pet pleasure: Give them lots of love, says Mr. Judge.

Winter pet care

Some pets are more vulnerable to the cold than others. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends taking your pets for a winter check-up in November or December before freezing temperatures set in. Have your veterinarian check for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances that can compromise a pet s ability to regulate body temperature. Older, arthritic pets may feel more stiff than usual during winter months. If they ll keep it on, dress them in a sweater for minimal warmth. Dogs lose body heat from their ears and feet, so be sure not to stay outside for extended periods of time. Signs of discomfort from the cold include whining, shivering, slow movement, or searching for warm places to burrow. When dogs and cats go outside, they can pick up salt, ice, and chemical ice, which melts in their foot pads. To keep Fido s foot pads clean and moisturized, wipe them with a wet wash cloth upon re-entering the house. This will also keep Fido from licking his feet, potentially causing inflammation to his digestive tract. Winter can still be fun for you and your pet if you take certain precautions. For more information, ask your veterinarian.