Cold Weather = Death for Outside Dogs and Cats
Cold, winter weather will be upon us here in the mid-west soon. When the temperatures dropping in the low teens, dogs and cats left outside will feel the brunt of the weather. Many dogs and cats freeze to death because they don’t have adequate shelter or worse, they live without a dog house or cat house.
Protection from the weather is crucial. Here’s some simple steps you can take that will go a long way in helping your outside dog and cat stay warm during the frigid temperatures:
1. Make sure the house is of sturdy construction. Igloo dog houses are appropriate for cold weather and so are solid wooden dog houses if the structure is made well. Gaps between the slats will let wind in, defeating the purpose of the dog house so you can use shingles or nail up other pieces of wood over any openings.
2. A flap over the opening is great because it will keep the wind and rain out. If your dog or cat house doesn’t have a wind barrier, attaching one is pretty simple. Use an old piece of carpet or an old car floor mat. If you have drill, use screws and attach the carpet or mat to the structure. If you can set the house on a pallet or some other raised platform about 3″-4″ your pets can stay warmer inside.
3. Adding straw inside the house adds extra cushion and warmth. Put a generous amount inside because dogs will flatten it out but that doesn’t affect its ability to help with warmth. The straw will also give a barrier to your dogs skin and the cold plastic if it’s an igloo dog house, another positive! It’s important to change out the straw periodically throughout the winter season because it will get saturated with the snow and rain.
4. Set the dog or cat house in a place you can see from your home. Dogs are pack animals and prefer to live with their humans but if they can’t live inside with you, at least give them the opportunity to be able to keep an eye on you and your home instead of being behind the garage, completely out of sight.
5. Using a heated water bowl is a good idea so you can ensure your dog or cat always has thawed water. Some people believe that during winter a dog doesn’t need water in a bowl because he can eat snow. Sure, my dogs eat snow when they go outside to potty but I don’t expect that to be their ONLY source of water. As a last resort most will eat snow if they’re extremely thirsty but normally, they’ll drink out of their bowl first.
6. Facing the opening of the dog house in the right position is crucial too. Here where I live, we recommend setting the opening to the south or east because the wind usually comes from the north/northwest.
I hope we’ve given you some helpful tips to keep your dog warm. Living outside is very harsh on some dogs, especially those with short hair. Recently in Missouri, a Boxer was found dead, frozen to death, his Labrador buddy was in a dog house next to him but their chains weren’t long enough for them to huddle together to stay warm. The Labrador lived and is in rescue but help came too late for the Boxer. To read the full article, click here.
We’re at the beginning of winter and this time of year makes me sad when I think about how many dogs and cats are left outside to fend for themselves. Feral cats and cat colonies have it rough during winter as well and simple shelters can be made out of rubbermaid totes.
Tips for Dogs on Chains or Cables
- The first tip is to make sure the chain or cable can’t get looped around anything near the dog. If there’s trees, bushes or other objects in the path of the chain or cable, try to short it or move it where nothing interferes with it. Many people overlook this and their dog ends up strangling itself when it tries to jump a fence or walk around a tree.
- Chains and cables can freeze to the ground. Check it several times each day, especially if we have freezing rain or heavy snowfall.
I’ve had first hand experience with a neighbors dog in this exact circumstance. Honey was a beautiful pit bull who lived outside 90% of the time. She had a dog house and about a 30lb log chain around her neck. Her owner didn’t have it attached correctly and every couple of days I would go over there to untangle her because the chain would (a) either get kinked up so much that she couldn’t move or (b) get froze to the ground. The last time I went to help her the chain was froze, her chin was flat to the ground and she couldn’t raise her head. She was close to death. Her eyes were bulging out and she was gasping for air. Her airway was almost completely cut-off from getting herself tangled up with that log chain, then getting froze in place, literally.
I used a screwdriver to pry the chain from the ground, as the snow continued to fall upon us. Her owner tried to unhook the carabiner from the log chain. With the sleet and snow, ice had covered it so he couldn’t break it loose. Eventually he used the screwdriver to crack the ice.
Poor Honey almost froze to death! This beautiful dog suffered horribly outside for hours before I came to her aide and if I hadn’t she would’ve died out there, alone and freezing.
So, if you have a cable or chain, check it to make sure it’s connected correctly. There should be a free-moving swivel so the chain can right itself instead of kinking up, if your chain or cable doesn’t have that, find another one to use. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go to a home improvement store or PetsMart and ask an associate for help, they’ll know what you need.
Instructions for a Simple, Warm Cat House
Instructions are simple. Take a tote, cut a circle in one end where a cat can crawl in. Take a smaller tote and put directly inside. Again, cut a hole so kitty can crawl inside.Take an old styrofoam cooler and break it apart, setting the foam pieces between the totes on the inside which act as insulation. Put a blanket or some straw inside, place lids on BOTH totes and set the cat house in a spot where the feral kitties can find it. Make sure to place the opening AWAY from the wind and voila! warm kitty house.
If you have a neighbor who is neglecting their outside dog and you’re afraid to report him or confront him, call us at 765-744-5688 or send a message. I’ll make a report or call myself, protecting you of course. Animals depend on us to live happy and healthy, will you be an angel to them?
Kelley Stewart, CEO|Pet Sitter
sit-stay-play In-home pet sitting & more.LLC