Keeping Dogs Outside in Cold Weather - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 12-25-2004, 06:48 PM
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It's been in the 'teens here in Nashville. We have had rain freeze on tree limbs and this has caused one tree (that may or may not have been on my property before it fell) to crash down on a neighbor's fence. I talked briefly with the woman, who put up a fence mainly because she has dogs that she keeps outside. She was anxious to get the fence repaired so she could again put her dogs outside.



This led me to wonder: What is an appropriate temperature to keep dogs outside? I guess I am looking for a number in terms of temperature.



I've seen a few websites that discuss this issue, but they just use verbal expressions like "extreme cold weather" and don't mention the temperature at which the dog should be kept inside.



Does anyone have any information on this?



Also, for any dog owners, what temperature do you use as a "trigger" to decide to keep your dog inside?
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#2 Old 12-25-2004, 07:13 PM
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Lizzies an inside dog, she stays outside just as long as she wants to. Now that its winter here. When she lets me know she wants to go outside, (staring at me wagging her tail ) I let her out and about every 15 minutes, I'll go see if she wants to come in. When she's ready she comes in.



She stays in the house at night sleeping anywhere she wants!.. Just like any other member of the family.



In the summer I just leave the door open, so she just goes in or out as she pleases. I have a 5 foot high chain linked fenced in yard.

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#3 Old 12-25-2004, 08:30 PM
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Joe, I think it depends on the dog and also what its used to. I remember when I was a kid how my uncles would keep their field dogs in a pen all year long, though they had a doghouse with plenty of straw. I can remember once when it got real cold (like 0 deg. F , which is plenty cold here in Dixie) that he ran a couple of extension cords out there and hung a couple of light bulbs in the houses and left them on all night. Supposedly the heat given off by the bulbs helped keep the dogs warm. Anyway, his never had any problems of which I am aware, but they were tough dogs that were acclimated to outdoor living.



On the other hand, these fru fru pooches that the wife keeps would probably freeze solid in a few minutes; they don't even like to go outside when its raining.
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#4 Old 12-25-2004, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bankruptor View Post

Joe, I think it depends on the dog and also what its used to.



Yes, I think that is right from what I read. Also, if you are going to keep a dog out in winter, I've read that you need to start keeping it out in the early fall to accustimize him and let his coat grow.



Still, I'd like to see some numbers on this, but haven't.



They say if a dog house is small enough and appropriately built, the dog can basically heat it with his own body heat.



Still, I'd start getting concerned if temperatures fell below freezing, and certainly if they fall into the teens. But that is just me, who has never owned a dog.
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#5 Old 12-25-2004, 09:01 PM
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I would guess no colder than 40 or so for sturdier breeds. (I don't like the idea of keeping them isolated and away from their pack, but that's another thread.)
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#6 Old 12-25-2004, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe View Post

They say if a dog house is small enough and appropriately built, the dog can basically heat it with his own body heat.



I've known guys that kept bird dogs outside all winter and used 55 gallon drums that were sawed in half, open on one end, then "floored" with straw, and they kept English pointers in there, one in each unit. They were like miniature US Marine barracks. That seemed somewhat odd to me but the dogs were obviously used to it, and he swore by the half drums as appropriate shelter.



I've had full blown doghouses with insulation and shingled roofs, smaller heavy plastic ones from Wal Mart, etc. Finally I just gave up and let the field dogs stay inside in the basement and den area. We've got dog doors and a half acre fenced in out back so they came and went at will. They seemed to like that a lot better, especially when the gas logs were turned on and the tv had a ballgame going.



The smaller indoor dogs have always lived indoors, just going out to play or hike a leg at their leisure.
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#7 Old 12-26-2004, 12:21 AM
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I've done well with the open door policy on my dogs. I have 2 small terriors that will not tollerate cold weather and I also have 2 larger dogs that seem to crave the cold weather. this doesn't seem to come to a humane issue at all here. If you have a small inside dog that never see's the out of doors then they will not have a problem....period. Just keep an eye on them. Now, The larger breeds of labs, husky, chow, and any other long hair dog (German's...what I have) will love the cold and really will never know the difference..... so, if you see a dog outside on a cold snowy, icy day....don 't fret...It's probably just cooling off or having a great time. Even the toy dogs love the cold and snow for a while and will probably grow the wiser by being in it.
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#8 Old 12-26-2004, 12:39 AM
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Here's some text taken from a vet's website:



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There is a common misconception that dogs will be "fine" if left outside. This is not true! All pets need adequate shelter from the elements and insulation against cold weather. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather - like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. The young and the senior pets are especially at risk.



Certain breeds, such as Huskies and Samoyeds are better suited to very cold weather, but the majority of dogs and need your help and intervention. Indoor accommodations are best during extreme temperature drops, but if that is not possible, set up a suitable house in an area protected from wind, rain, and snow.



http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/dise...eatherlist.htm



Note that verbal expressions are used, like "extreme temperature drops," but no actual numbers/temperatures are given.
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#9 Old 12-26-2004, 12:54 AM
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Thanks for the link Joe! I have a little rat dog (my daughters chihuahua) who has to stay outside and I have been using a regular heating pad. I think it is better to get one like on the link there.
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#10 Old 12-26-2004, 01:27 AM
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We used to have a labrador and I would never leave him outside if it was colder than 50, even with his thick coat. There were times when he wanted to be kept out a few minutes longer and play fetch or something, but as soon as he came in he would snuggle up to the heating vent. I guess it does matter if the dog is used to it or not, but leaving a dog outside during the day in the teens or when it gets below freezing seems kind of irresponsible to me, especially is you leave them outside while you're at work or something (gives a look to her neighbors...)
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#11 Old 12-26-2004, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Bankruptor View Post


On the other hand, these fru fru pooches that the wife keeps would probably freeze solid in a few minutes; they don't even like to go outside when its raining.

Eh, neither does my dog.



But my goodness, if you think its too cold for you, then its too cold for the dogs. At least around my house it is!
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#12 Old 12-26-2004, 07:01 AM
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Doesn't PETA have an entire campaign dedicated to eradicating the practice of leaving dogs chained outdoors PERIOD?

I don't understand why someone would do that to a pet they loved.
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#13 Old 12-26-2004, 07:05 AM
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#14 Old 12-26-2004, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by organica View Post

Doesn't PETA have an entire campaign dedicated to eradicating the practice of leaving dogs chained outdoors PERIOD?

I don't understand why someone would do that to a pet they loved.

Well, the topic wasn't really keeping dogs chained outside specifically but simply letting them stay outdoors in cold weather. I think even some of the most animal-compassionate people aren't sure about just how cold it needs to get before they bring their dogs indoors. Although, if it's snowing or below freezing and you see a dog chained outside, you should certainly do something about it.

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#15 Old 12-26-2004, 04:11 PM
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if you wouldnt want to stay outside for a long time, dont lock your dog out there. if you wouldnt mind - its fairly warm, then its okay. (but, locking dogs outsdie and not letting them in at all is mean).

thas how i would go about it.
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#16 Old 12-27-2004, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by organica View Post

Doesn't PETA have an entire campaign dedicated to eradicating the practice of leaving dogs chained outdoors PERIOD?

I don't understand why someone would do that to a pet they loved.



I have a bumper sticker on my truck from PETA.



It say "Friends not chain friends.

Bring dogs inside"



With a pic of a dog on a VERY short chain, with a little tear in its eye.

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#17 Old 12-27-2004, 02:25 PM
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How do you keep the dog outside at night? I can't even keep ours out of OUR BED!







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#18 Old 12-27-2004, 02:31 PM
 
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It is hard to get a firm temp at which dogs MUST come inside. My dog Honey loves to be outside, no matter how cold it is. If I keep her in the house, I have to close the blinds so she can't see outside. Otherwise, she whimpers incessantly.



Anyway, if the temperature is at or below freezing, the dog's water dish will freeze, and he/she won't have water to drink.
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#19 Old 12-27-2004, 02:46 PM
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Any temp. that is too cold for a human is too cold for a dog. In the case of puppies or the teeny breeds, any cold that is too cold for a human baby is too cold for them.
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#20 Old 12-27-2004, 02:47 PM
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Anyway, if the temperature is at or below freezing, the dog's water dish will freeze, and he/she won't have water to drink.



That's right, make sure to make provision for that if you keep your dog outside below 32 F. I've seen people wrap heat tape around the water pot, or just change it out every few hours.
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#21 Old 12-27-2004, 04:20 PM
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My big dogs actually seem to be bothered by heat more than cold. (Exact opposite of me.) They don't seem to mind the cold unless it dips to single digits or negative numbers. Anything above 35-40 is considered appropriate for swimming for them. Of course, an older and/or smaller dog can't handle cold as well. A friend had a husky that, even when it was like -10 outside, would want to go out and just lay in the snow. Of course, it could come in whenever it wanted to and wasn't forced out there for days/hours on end.



That said, no dog should be kept outside. Don't have a dog if you're not going to make him a full-fledged pack member that's allowed into the "den."
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#22 Old 12-27-2004, 04:32 PM
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Anyway, if the temperature is at or below freezing, the dog's water dish will freeze, and he/she won't have water to drink.



From what I've read, they actually make heated water bowls for this situation. They don't heat it to make it hot, just heat it enough to keep it from freezing.
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#23 Old 12-27-2004, 05:50 PM
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It depends on the dog, I have a greyhound and he wears a coat for more than a quick pee break anytime it's cold enough that I need gloves.
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#24 Old 12-27-2004, 05:51 PM
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That said, no dog should be kept outside. Don't have a dog if you're not going to make him a full-fledged pack member that's allowed into the "den."

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#25 Old 12-27-2004, 06:15 PM
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In response to the whole thing about water in a dog's bowl freezing--if that happens its way too cold for the dog to be outside!!! I don't know about others, but at our house pets are members of the family, so they spend plenty of time inside (on the beds, couches, etc. ) But I've learned that not everyone thinks the same way I do & that too many people out there believe that a dog is just a dog & not a member of the family like they are around here.
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#26 Old 12-27-2004, 06:24 PM
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In response to the whole thing about water in a dog's bowl freezing--if that happens its way too cold for the dog to be outside!!!



I've just got to disagree with that generalization. Sure, for our house dogs, below 32F without the ability to come inside would be kinda tough on them. For A Saint Bernard that stays outside all the time, 31F is a walk in the park. On the other hand, 95F/95% humidity would be like a death sentence to a dog like this without shade.



It depends entirely on the type of dog as well as to what conditions they are acclimated.
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#27 Old 12-27-2004, 10:41 PM
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I have small dogs and big dogs and they all stay inside. They don't like being outside and I would never even consider having a dog if they had to stay outside. I always feel sorry for outdoor dogs.



I like this by the Michigan Humane Society:



Outside Dogs

by Michigan Humane Society







Many potential adopters ask "Is this an 'Outside' dog?" Our answer is, "Not anymore." We attempt to place dogs with people who understand the need of a dog to be a part of the family. Even thousands of years ago when man and all animals lived "outside", there was a cave or den for shelter, and man and dogs lived in small groups or "packs". The truth is, times have changed but we and the dogs haven't. Both humans and dogs are "pack" animals, we do not tend to be solitary. Domesticated, companion dogs no longer have packs of other dogs to live with, so dogs now need to be members of human families or packs. Furthermore, both people and dogs are "den" animals. This is the reason that dogs can be housebroken. Dogs want shelter in a safe, secure den - your home - and they want their den to be clean.



Obviously dogs can be forced to live outside, alone and away from their families. But to force this kind of life on a dog is one of the worst things you can do to him. Such a life goes against a dog's two most basic instincts: the pack and the den. If you have any doubts about these ideas, think of all the whining, barking, clawing dogs you have seen tied up alone outside. Dogs trying desperately to get their human families' attention, and then just giving up to become hyperactive, listless, fearful, or vicious when the stress of enforced solitude becomes too much to cope with.



The rationale given by people who permanently keep their dogs outside is that they will spend time with the pet outside. Even the most well-meaning pet owner does not spend significant time outside, particularly when it is raining or cold. Consequently, under the best of circumstances for the outside dog, a bowl of food and water hastily shoved before him, a quick pat given, and his owner, his WORLD is gone, leaving the animal to spend another 22 or 23 hours alone.



A dog brings you the gifts of steadfast devotion, abiding love, and joyful companionship. Unless you can responsibly accept a dog's offer of these great gifts, please do not get a dog. If you already have a dog, perhaps this article will help you to see things from his point of view, and possibly motivate you to change your relationship with him. A sad, lonely, bewildered dog, kept outside, wondering why he cannot be with his family, brings only sadness and unhappiness to the world.



WSMV Channel 4 News has an article on their website:



All Dogs Should Live Inside, But . . .



The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) believes that all dogs should live indoors with their families. A dog requires more than just food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. As important as these basics is companionship. Being social animals, dogs not only prefer to be around people and other animals, they actually require this interaction to be healthy and well adjusted.



Despite these strong beliefs, The HSUS realizes that until all people are educated to become responsible pet owners, many dogs will be forced to live outside much of the time. For those who do not allow their dogs inside or insist on keeping them out some of the time, the doghouse plans provided here will help keep dogs comfortable while they are outside.



Please note: Dogs should never be tied to their houses. Tied-out dogs may become entangled and not be able to reach their shelter, food, or water. If a dog must be kept outside, he or she should be kept within a fence or other safe enclosure and not tied up.



We encourage everyone -- animal control officers, humane society workers, and private citizens-- to do everything possible to alleviate the suffering of dogs who are forced to live outside and apart from their families. We provide these doghouse plans for those cases where all else fails.



A Well-Designed Space



Experts describe the type of shelter that dogs should have if it is necessary to keep them outside.



The doghouse should be well insulated, with the floor several inches above the ground, preferably on concrete blocks.

The roof should be slanted, so rain or snow won't collect.

The house should be wide enough for the dog to turn around in and long enough for him to stretch out without any part of his body touching the sides.

The shelter must not be too large, however, because it's the dog's own body warmth that heats the place. In too large a doghouse, or even in a garage or shed, the dog will be unable to keep warm.

The house should face away from the prevailing winds, and be placed so the sun can reach it a good part of the day during winter. In summer, it should be in the shade and well ventilated.

In winter, a piece of heavy carpet or burlap, fastened at the top of the doorway, should cover the entrance to keep out drafts, but this can be removed in the summer.

The house should have a hinged roof for easy cleaning and for spraying regularly with flea and tick spray to keep those insects from seeking shelter there themselves. You can tell by watching your dog whether such spraying is necessary; fleas sometimes do "winter over."

There are some good doghouses for sale, but you can build one yourself, if you prefer. The simple plans shown here make an excellent doghouse containing a partition to make a warm sleeping room, as well as a perch to provide a dry place for the dog to lie outside.



Keeping an Outdoor Dog Healthy



Bedding for the doghouse is important. A covering over the cold floor helps to keep the dog warm and comfortable. Straw or cedar chips are most suitable and usually can be obtained from your local feed store. Shredded newspaper may be used, but be aware that the newsprint can rub off and discolor the dog's fur. Also, some dogs are allergic to newsprint. Here is an important caution: Hay is not suitable because it gets moldy and can contain a fungus (Aspergillus) that causes a very serious condition in the dog's nasal passages, leading to severe nosebleeds.



Outdoor dogs should never be moved back and forth between heated indoor quarters and the cold outdoors. Such extreme temperature changes can cause severe and often fatal respiratory illness. However, a cool basement or similar shelter indoors on bitter cold nights would be welcome, and certainly dogs deserve that consideration. Outdoor dogs burn extra energy to maintain their body heat in cold weather. Studies have shown that the dog's normal amount of food should be increased by 25 percent in moderate winter weather, and much more than that in very cold weather.



All companion animals require fresh water daily, so if the water is frozen outdoors, drinkable water must be provided at least twice a day.
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#28 Old 12-28-2004, 08:18 AM
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The temp that you bring the dogs in really depends on the dogs. Huskies, German Shepherds and the like can withstand some pretty cold temperatures.



Even the "if it's too cold for humans, it's too cold for dogs" rule doesn't seem to work. Too cold for me is about -20 degrees, but then, I have good winter gear and am used to the cold.



It can be hard on a dog that's used to being outside all the time to come indoors, especially if they've already got their winter coat in, it's too warm inside for them.



Personally, I like my dogs inside with me, but I'm not going to condemn people for having outdoor dogs.
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#29 Old 12-28-2004, 10:38 AM
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Personally, I like my dogs inside with me, but I'm not going to condemn people for having outdoor dogs.



I will. Dogs are social animals and it's cruel to isolate them from their pack/family.
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#30 Old 12-28-2004, 11:24 AM
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I will. Dogs are social animals and it's cruel to isolate them from their pack/family.



Actually, when you have a single dog for a pet, you've already isolated them from a "pack". The social interactions between dog/dog and human/dog are different, and it's a disservice to the dog to think that making them pseudo-humans in your household is all they need to be emotionally healthy.



I can't imagine anyone arguing that isolating a human in a dog pack would be healthy. I doesn't work the other way, either.
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