It's easy to assume your dog, having fur and paws, has what he or she needs to be happy and healthy during Salem's harsh winter season.
Most dogs, in fact, need something to protect them from the sundry perils of extreme New England weather. With the coldest temperatures yet to come, safety and overall comfort are top priorities. You can find pretty much everything you need for your dog, or cat for that matter, right here in Salem.
Karen Caccavaro, owner of Penelope's Pet Boutique on Washington Street, shared her expertise with Salem Patch.
"Imagine being outside with just a little fur to protect you. It's cold," said Caccavaro.
Small dogs, older dogs, dogs with short fur or dogs with a combination of these characteristics will have a difficult time regulating their own body temperature when it's extremely cold outside said Nicholas Dodman, an animal behavioral specialist who also teaches at Tufts University.
Penelope's carries a wide range of water-proof coats, but they also carry the classic knit sweater. All of these are available in different sizes, styles and colors.
Jeff McKee, owner of The Barking Cat on Essex Street, sells water-proof, fleece-lined coats which come in a variety of colors and sizes. McKee said it is important to, "keep your dog active year-round and to manage their weight." His selection of coats, by RC Pet Products, keep the wind, rain and snow out and precious warmth in.
Aside from gear to keep your dog warm, Penelope's Pet Boutique carries two products to protect your dog's paws from winter-season road salt which Caccavaro said can become lodged in the paw and create a painful infection. "People don't even think about it…It's usually something [from] the ground," that is the cause of paw infections, she explained.
To protect paws from road salt, you can purchase two products at Penelope's: Pawz, which are rubber booties or Musher's Secret, which is a wax. Musher's Secret comes in a small plastic tub and can be applied to the paw. It prevents pieces of rock salt or other debris from becoming stuck in the dog's feet. The rubber booties are, "like... horseshoe[s]," said Caccavaro, and allow the dog to still feel the ground.
Though Penelope's doesn't carry boots for dogs, Caccavaro said when a dog is outfitted with actual boots, the dog cannot properly feel the ground and this causes the dog to "walk funny." The owner of five Chihuahuas, Karen knows from experience.
Pet Smart is also an option located off Highland Avenue, near Home Depot for pet gear. The business sells a wide variety of pet supplies, including coats and sweaters, and it also supports the local animal group, PALs. PALs, formerly known as Peabody Animal Lifesavers, is a volunteer-based group "committed to promoting high standards of quality animal care." Pet Smart provides the organization with free space to house rescued animals and also provides equipment. PALs is currently conducting a fundraiser where you can have your pet's picture taken with Santa inside Pet Smart.
Salem winter is hard on humans and hard on pets. Keep your pet from becoming a popsicle. Everything you need, when it comes to pets, is available here in Salem. You can visit The Barking Cat, Penelope's Pet Boutique and PALs online to find out more at thebarkingcat.us, penelopespetboutique.com and palspeabody.com respectively.