As we prepare our homes for the cold weather, we must prepare appropriate accommodations for our pets as well. Cats are very clever about finding cozy little places to curl up and keep warm. Unless your dog is totally pampered and only ventures outside when absolutely necessary, he needs our help in providing the essentials for both cold and hot weather.
Dogs who spend any amount of time outside need protection from rain and snow, cold winter winds, hot summer sun and the cold, damp ground. And they need fresh, clean water.
The cold ground is hard on joints and bones. A wooden pallet topped with a piece of carpeting is great for keeping a few inches between dog and ground while allowing air to circulate. Arranging a tarp or cover over this gives him his own covered patio. Even when it is raining, the dog can be up off the ground and stay dry. If this patio is attached to your house, he has some wind protection.
Whether the dog spends the night outside or not, he needs a doghouse. If he is out all night, the house should be insulated and the door should be positioned for the best protection from wind. A flap over the door allows the interior to be warmed by the dog’s body and keeps that warmth inside. This flap should be tied up during warm days to allow for airing out. With multiple dogs, you need multiple houses, or one large enough for all of them. Having the houses facing each other with the tarp over all and the pallet in between creates cozy quarters.
There are heated beds and heaters for doghouses. Make sure that electrical cords are out of reach. On very cold or stormy nights, the dog should be in the house. Actually, whether the temperature is high or low, dogs are very happy sharing the bed of their owner or having their own bed right next to it.
A dog that spends a lot of time outside during the cold of winter should be given more food to build up a layer of fat, helping him keep warm. A lean dog with short hair or an older dog needs substantial meals twice a day to keep his body warm. Just like we enjoy a hot meal on a cold day, the dog will like it, too. Fix an extra portion of oatmeal to add to the dog’s dry food. In the evening, you can add a little water to the food and heat it in the microwave for a minute. It warms the dog from the inside out. Twice a day feeding is best all year-round for all dogs.
Water must be available all of the time inside and outside. Heated water dishes are available, but just checking the water dish several times a day ensures that the water dish is full and not frozen.
If dogs do spend a large amount of time outside, they need extra attention from members of the family. A walk, a game of fetch, or just sitting and having a conversation and some nice fur ruffling is appreciated.
A warm house and a hot meal are welcomed by us all.