The weather outside……

…… is frightful, but in the dog house it’s delightful!  Apologies to Wendy and Carnie Wilson who wrote LET IT SNOW!

Reasonable care should be taken during cold weather for outdoor pets and livestock.

Bedding

It is my personal opinion that outside dogs are hardier than the indoor variety who only “visit” the outdoors. Rumor has it that I live where it is very cold (Alaska). When my dogs are in a kennel run that is under roof, I build a 4 x 4 foot frame of 2 x 10s screwed together to provide a box that is comfortably filled with shavings of cedar or pine. I have used plain old coarse sawdust with good success. I do not like straw because it holds more moisture and too quickly turns to a dirty powder. My dog houses are not insulated and are large enough for me to sit in with an adult St. Bernard. The dog house needs bedding as described above and uses a generous 2-3 inches in depth. The dog will invariably scoot the bedding aside and allow himself to lie on a bare wooden floor. I re-spread the bedding material every day at feeding time. My dog houses are not draft free, but they are dry and dry is the key to comfort and safety. I do not use carpet because of possible danger of some of it being ingested into the dog’s digestive system. Carpet isn’t digestible! I do increase useable calories about 25% in winter.

Housing

My dog houses are built on top of a discarded freight pallet that sits on the ground as a foundation. I use 1/2 inch exterior plywood for the floor, walls and roof. I use 2 x 4s for the frame. My dog houses also have a roof that only slopes in one direction. Because I live on a mountain side, the water is allowed to run off in the direction of my choice. I use metal roofing material that matches my own house!

Adequate Water

In cold weather, provide adequate drinking water. Forcing your dog to eat snow is not good enough. If you use an electric device to keep the water bucket ice-free, make sure that the bucket/water does not give your pet an electrical shock.

Bathing/Grooming

I do not bathe my dogs in winter except for shows.  They are outdoors ALL the time.  I find that the long haired variety needs combing at least weekly and I trim long hair off their foot pads as needed.  When they get a winter bath for a show, it is done at a commercial dog wash where they also have blow drying.

We have actually had Saints in training for the Iditarod Race, and that was the only time our dogs wore booties! Be dry and be warm.

Glen V. Williams, Alaska

December, 2013