First off, you need to make sure they have a shelter facing the East, southeast or south. There is less wind coming from these directions. It is best to place the dog house next to a shelter or your house to help avoid strong winds.
Secondly, choose a house that is appropriate to your dog’s size. It is better to have a larger house then one too small. If you live in a colder climate, try to find a house that has a flap over the door or longer entrance.
You can make a flap by cutting plastic or rubber to fit the doorway and attaching it just above the entrance if you have a flat entrance.
Next, you will want to make sure there is appropriate bedding in the shelter. You can use straw (mix in some cedar chips to keep bugs away), bedding, old blankets, any materials that can help the dog nestle in. Heated pet mats are a huge plus to keeping your pet warm. There are many types of heated pet mats; you will want to make sure the pet mat you have chose is suitable to the bedding you are using.
You will also want a heater water bowl or water heater to keep your pets bowl from freezing. Be sure not to use a metal heater in a plastic bowl! Water is very important to a pet’s survival in the water; they need it just as much on a cold day as a hot one. You might want is a self feeder dog bowl or a covered feeding area to keep the food from freezing and getting wet. In the winter you might find that your pet is eating a little bit more. This is because since it is cold their bodies are shivering and burning more calories trying to keep warm. It is ok to feed them a little more in the winter!
The last few items you may want are clothing options such as a coat/hoodie for your pet when going for walks. Some short or fine haired dogs do not have the warmth from thick fur to be out in the cold for long periods of time. But make sure this is not left on your dog for days at a time, your dog’s skin does need to breath. Coats need to be cleaned as well since your dog will perspire just like we do. You might also consider foot booties. Yes, this might seem like a silly thing but your dog can get cracked paws and their skin can freeze just like ours can when they are out in the weather for too long or going for extended walks. Most of the booties available can also be used for walking on hot sidewalks in the summer to prevent blistering. (Double the use!)
One thing people tend to forget is that domesticated animals rely on their owners to take care of them in not only the cold but hot days as well.The humane society has a great article on keeping your pet warm. http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/sheltering-your-dog .As well as an article on https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx that explains the difference in dog sizes and hair/fur types and how winter effects them all differently.
Check back with us on keeping your horses and live stock warm, as well as how to make an out door winter cat house!
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