Keeping dogs outside works great during the summer months, but it can be more difficult as the temperatures fall. During the winter, it is critical that you ensure your pet's safety. Here's how to keep outside dogs comfortable in bad weather:
- Get dog clothing. Purchase specially-sized dog clothes, or alter old shirts to fit your dog. Layers of warmth close to his skin can help keep an outside dog comfortable in bad weather. This is particularly important for smaller dogs who do not have the levels of body fat necessary to keep themselves warm, especially in bad weather.
- Get a dog house. Your outside dog will need some sort of shelter to be comfortable and warm in bad weather. This could be an old shed or a doghouse. Find a location that will keep your dog out of the rain and wind. The ideal doghouse will be large enough for your dog, with thick walls that will keep out the wind and also help provide insulation. Do not choose a thin, flimsy dog house if your dog will be spending a lot of time outside in the winter months.
- Make the doghouse warmer. Alter the doghouse by covering it in tarps and placing lots of warm bedding inside. Old blankets work well for keeping outside dogs comfortable in bad weather.
- Check for leaks. Every day, check to make sure that your dog's clothes and blankets are clean and dry. Patch any leaks as soon as they are discovered. If water does get in to your pet's shelter, not only will he be cold and wet, but so will all of his bedding.
- Keep food and water close. Your dog's food and water bowls don't need to be directly inside his doghouse, but he shouldn't have to go far for them. How would you like to make your way into the cold, rainy weather just to get some food?
- Watch the temperatures. Have a plan in place for caring for your dog in very cold temperatures. If it is freezing outside, it's not humane to leave your dog out there, even if he has a shelter. At least bring your outside dog into the garage to keep him comfortable in inclement weather. When given appropriate shelter, dogs can be comfortable in cold weather up to a point, though it can get to be too cold for them outside.
Though you may have good reason for keeping your dog outdoors, it can be quite dangerous to leave them out there alone during bad weather. If your pet spends time outdoors in the rain and wind, be sure to provide plenty of warm shelter. Keeping outside dogs comfortable in bad weather should be one of your top priorities when it comes to preparing for the winter season.