Category Archives: dog house

Caring For Outside Pets in Cold Weather

By Linda Cole

Not every pet has the luxury of sleeping inside in a special pet bed or snuggling under a warm blanket beside their human on cold winter nights. Some pets are not able to share their owner’s home for a variety of reasons. Even though they are stuck outside, there are ways to help pets stay warm and dry. Outside pets need extra TLC and attention given to them through the snowy days and chilly nights of winter.

I have a friend who has four outside cats. Last fall, her husband built a beautiful insulated cat house for them with lots of room to spread out in. It has two floors with access to the second floor from the inside, and lots of straw and warm baby blankets to curl up in. Sounds like the perfect shelter to escape the wind and snow, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the raccoons in the neighborhood think this cat house is pretty sweet too. Plus, outside pets don’t always appreciate our best efforts, and sometimes refuse to use shelter that’s been provided.

The best solution, especially for cats, is to have several different areas they can get into for shelter. Cats will search for a place that is warm, and this includes car engines. During winter, it’s a good idea to bang on the hood of your car to alert possible stowaways it’s time to vacate their nest. Banging on your hood can prevent unnecessary injuries to a cat who curled up next to a warm engine. It’s also a good idea to check your garage or any outside buildings to make sure your cat or someone else’s doesn’t get shut inside by accident.

Outside pets may need to be encouraged to use their dog house or cat house. A thick layering of straw for burrowing into works great to help ward off a cold chill. If you live in the country, you might try making a straw bale cat house like the one pictured above, which features a 2-story insulated sleeping chamber, maze-corridors and a glass-fronted “sun room.”

Avoid using hay because it has a tendency to mold when it gets wet. It’s important to keep their bedding dry. A pet door large enough for your pet to comfortably get through helps to keep out snow, rain and wind. Just keep in mind, other critters may find your pet’s winter quarters to their liking and can also get through pet doors. Avoid feeding outside pets in their sleeping area. Coons and possums will be attracted to the food, and you will end up feeding them instead of your pet. If possible, feed your pet inside on the back porch instead of leaving food outside.

Making sure your pet has fresh, unfrozen water can be challenging as temperatures fall. Heated water bowls work well and are easy to install. Outside pets will find water sources that can be harmful or potentially dangerous for them. Don’t allow your pet to drink from melted pools of water that could contain antifreeze, chemicals used as deicers on streets, or ice melt that was used on sidewalks. Antifreeze poisoning is serious and can be fatal to cats and dogs.

An outside pet burns a lot of calories trying to stay warm. If they eat primarily dry food, consider adding a premium quality canned food like the CANIDAE and FELIDAE Grain Free Salmon formulas to their diet, for extra calories during the winter months.

Stray cats or dogs can always use a helping hand during winter’s fury even though it’s not our responsibility to feed them. If you see a stray cat or dog, please be generous and give them some food, shelter and water, especially if it looks like they need someone to step in and give them a hand. Even though most lost pets or strays don’t understand someone is trying to help, they will appreciate a small bowl of food and water left in an out of the way spot just for them. They could have a family who is looking for them or had circumstances beyond their control that left them homeless. If you have a no kill shelter in your area, consider calling them. In most cases, they will send someone to try and capture the cat or dog and will take it back to the shelter.

Most outside pets can get through winter safely provided they have proper shelter with warm, dry bedding, and plenty of fresh unfrozen water. However, outside pets should be brought inside during periods of extreme cold or heavy snowfall. Cats and dogs feel wind chill just like humans do, and have the same risk of frost bite and hypothermia. Plan now so your outside pet will be well cared for when those winter winds begin to howl.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Tips for Buying or Building a Dog House

By Ruthie Bently

Here in Minnesota, while the season on the calendar is still fall, it feels more like winter, sans snow. Skye does have a dog house, though she does not have to use it for winter shelter because she is never left outside. In any country that has a winter season, it is best to have a dog house for those very cold days and nights. Dogs that have no shelter of any kind can get frostbite on their feet, tails and ear tips. They can also suffer from hypothermia which can cause more permanent damage if not treated quickly enough.

You can buy a dog house, or you can make one yourself if you are handy. Visit your local library for do-it-yourself books on how to make a dog house, which will usually include plans. You can probably even find free dog house plans on the Internet. Whether you buy a dog house or make it yourself, the things you should look for are the same.

One thing to consider is the height of the interior space of the dog house. Your dog should be able to get in, turn around and lay down. They don’t have to hold their head up, but should be able to walk into the house without bending their knees. Think of it like your dog’s outdoor den, or (if you use a crate in the house) your dog’s outdoor crate without a door. It should be comfortable for them to get into if they need to. For example, Skye fits well into a crate that is 36” long x 24” wide and 26” high; so if I were looking for a dog house I would look for one with those basic measurements. An important thing to remember is that the dog’s body heat keeps the house warm, so if it is too large your dog won’t be able to stay warm.

Another important factor is that you don’t want your dog house to sit right on the ground. Instead, you want a bit of clearance between the floor of the house and the ground. Rain, snow and ice can get into the floor of the dog house if it sits right on the ground, causing it to deteriorate. Clearance will also keep insects from getting into the dog house, and allows air to circulate. Try to find a dog house with an offset door; this will help keep the winter winds from whistling in and keep snow off your dog as well. One with a baffle pattern is good, but again your dog has to be able to maneuver without too much trouble. If the roof is peaked, you may want to get a sheet of insulated wallboard for extra warmth. A dog house with a shingled roof is a plus, and will protect the roof of the house from the weather.

To cover the floor you can get a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting, which makes it easier to clean. On top of that you can put an old quilt or down comforter. If you use a down comforter, get a good heavy cover for it, as your dog will probably want to make a nest. Several clean, old rugs work well as bedding too. There are even heated pads you can purchase, but if you use one of these, the dog has to be able to get off of it if they want to. You can also use a nest of straw, but make sure it is clean and mold-free. I like to use old comforters, and can buy them for a few dollars at the thrift store. They are nice and thick, and Skye loves to dig in them in her crate.

If you get a dog house and want to put it into a dog run, make sure your dog run has a top on it. Your dog could use the house as a launching place to get over the dog run fence. If your run does not have a top or is too small for the dog house, you can cut an access panel through the dog run fence, butt the dog house up to the fence and anchor it to the fence. This will keep your dog from pushing it out of the way and trying to escape the dog run. You may also want to use tie downs if the dog house is lightweight and you live in a particularly windy area. I am a fan of wooden dog houses and have had good luck with them, but these tips will apply to any dog (or cat) house you get to protect your pets from the elements.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.