As we humans struggle to keep ourselves warm, what do you think those animals outside are going through? Please bring your pets inside during this extremely cold weather!
Now, having said that….what about those animals that you cannot bring inside your home? If you see a stray dog, please call animal control. That is much more humane than letting them suffer outside.
But then, what about the feral cats?
How about making a cat shelter for these poor misplaced felines? Check out Give the Gift of Warmth to Feral Cats This Winter for detailed instructions on putting these shelters together.
Please have food and water available. There is certainly nothing outside to catch and eat in the extreme cold weather and all water will be frozen.
Now, I do not believe in keeping a dog or any pet outside, but the fact remains, that is still a common practice, so please, for those that do keep their dogs outside, please give them adequate shelter during the extreme cold weather. I am no expert on this, but common sense should prevail here. Get them out of the snow and the wind. Have a cover over the entrance way. Fill the dog house with bedding of some kind. I have been told that blankets are not the best as they get wet and freeze. I have heard straw is one of the best insulators. Place a piece of styrofoam under the straw, and now you have an even better bed that will generate even more heat. I know you can contact your veterinarian or look online for more alternatives.
Please make sure they are fed regularly and have fresh water. The animals actually need to be fed more frequently to fend off the cold.
Older animals may lack the ability to elevate their body heat efficiently. There is usually less muscle mass. They also may have arthritis. These animals require extra cold protection and above-average nutrition. Again, the styrofoam layer under straw is a must here.
I did look online for some information on keeping an outside dog safe from the elements. A few tips I picked up from the Utah Humane Society:
*The shelter should be protected from the wind, with the door facing away from prevailing winds. The entrance should be off-center so the dog can curl up in the corner, protected from precipitation and drafts.
Never thought about the entrance being off center, but it makes so much sense. Most dog houses I see have the entrance right smack dab in the center of the house.
*A nesting box, to hold bedding, should be provided in the protected inside shelter corner. The roof should be able to be raised to allow warm weather ventilation and ease of cleaning. Extension of the roof line, out over the entrance, provides an area shaded from the sun and protects the entrance during inclement weather. The entrance should be covered with a baffle or canvas flap.
Wow, never thought of a nesting box. I see how my personal dogs love the dog beds with the sides. They curl right up in them. I did not know if it was the secure feeling of the beds or the warmth of the beds. I figured it was both, but can see how that would really help an outside dog stay warm!
*The roof should have some pitch to provide drainage. The house should be situated on a high, well-drained location. It should have clean bedding at all times. A bag made of ticking stuffed with shredded newspapers, straw, cedar or pine shavings, can be regularly emptied, washed, and renewed with fresh stuffing material.
Have to admit I never thought about the roof pitch on a dog house either. I have seen many flat roofed dog houses and never once thought about drainage.
*The shelter is for sleeping and escaping weather extremes — not to live in. The interior should provide a comfortable sleeping area protected from drafts. Don’t build it too large, or it won’t allow the dog’s body heat to keep the air surrounding him warm.
*A dog should never wear a ‘choke chain’ except during training. A proper restraint device for normal use would be a suitably-sized leather or nylon collar or harness with its snap-ring and buckle in good repair. Dogs should have a license, rabies tag, and microchip at all times.
*Take special precautions insure the animal can’t tangle its chain or rope around trees, posts, and yard swings. Make sure the animal can’t dig under or climb over fences, or fall from porches, stairways, or elevated patios, as humane societies respond to several such reports of hung and hanging dogs each year.
I just cannot imagine a dog being tangled outside and unable to get to its shelter. So many things I just do not think about.
*The shelter opening should be just large enough to allow the dog to enter and exit and should face away from prevailing winds. Shelters should be caulked and raised off wet and frozen ground and be well-insulated. Bedding should be a thick pad with washable cover, containing cedar chips or shredded newspaper. Check bedding daily to be sure it is dry and clean, as a dog’s coat and feet bring in moisture.
*Check on the dog’s food and water frequently during the day to be sure they are not frozen. Ice will slip out readily if you put a thin film of petroleum jelly inside the water bucket each time you fill it. A hollow plastic bowl for water won’t crack if frozen.
*During winter the dog should be fed several small meals rather than one large meal. It needs additional caloric intake (about 15% more food for each 20 degree F. drop in temperature) and a bit more animal fat or vegetable oil to help convert energy to body heat.
Did not think about the feeding either. Really makes sense.
*Close off empty spaces between the bottom of the doghouse floor and the ground or concrete to prevent the wind from blowing under the shelter. In the worst weather, a protected light bulb can supply additional warmth to the doghouse interior.
*The best place for a doghouse or shelter is inside another building, such as a garage or shed. The doghouse might be placed on the shady side of a home during summer and on the sunny side during winter.
The fact remains, there are many short haired dogs that should not be left outside ever.
Don’t forget the wild birds also. They, too, could use a little help getting through this extreme weather. If you are able, provide them with food and water also.
We as humans can do so much for these sweet souls that rely on us for their food and living space, so please provide them a safe, dry, warm place. That is what we are looking for in our lives, why should the animals be any different.
I do have to say I learned some things while looking up information. I never thought a whole lot about dog houses other than I do not like to ever see a dog tied out to one. I have a new knowledge of what is needed and a new understanding of what some of these animals go through out in the cold.
Thank you to all you wonderful people that house the feral cats, and feed the wild birds, and keep your pets inside.
For those of you that have never brought your pets inside, give it a try. You just might like having that loving companion at your side inside your home. It is a wonderful experience, just give it some time. I love having my dogs on my lap while watching TV, they keep me warm. They have so much love to give, why leave them outside away from the family? Let them be part of your family. That is certainly where they want to be, with their family. You are their pack. The pack stays together!
Our pets have no voice, they have no choice, they only have us!
If you have any helpful ways you keep your pets or other outdoor animals warm and fed in winter, please share them below.