Extreme cold can be dangerous to pets

Bow Chicka Wow Town is Rhode Island's only indoor dog park.

Animal owners need to watch out for serious pitfalls when winter weather sets in.

At the Rhode Island Animal Medical Center, Dr. Jennifer Fish says dog owners should keep a close eye on their pooches in below freezing temperatures.

"Basically, if you don't want to be outside then your animal doesn't want to be outside," she said.

Getting too cold can lead to hypothermia. Even the salt on the ground can irritate a dog's paws or make them sick if ingested, but the most widespread problem is lack of exercise.

"They can gain some weight during the winter time too," Fish said. "This can put some pressure on their joints and cause some arthritis."

Some dogs even have to have knee surgery in the spring because the weight has such a negative impact.

That's one of the reasons Bow Chicka Wow Town opened. Located in Warwick, it is Rhode Island's only indoor dog park.

Owner Alisa Theurer said she first saw an indoor dog park while her husband was stationed in Japan. When they returned to the states, New England winters had her wishing for a local one.

"It was the winter of 2010," she said. "I had a 6-month-old and a yellow lab, and I was going crazy."

After that experience she decided to open her own. For more than a year now, Bow Chicka Wow Town has offered a place to play in any weather.

"There's always something going on in nature, where you're like, 'Oh, I don't really want to go outside.' And that's what we're here for," Theurer said.

Theurer said business is at an all-time high during the winter.

"Especially the little dogs," she said. "They come in with their coats and their booties sometimes."

The dogs can run and play without fear of the cold. A sure fire way they can stay in shape despite the winter weather.