Heidi Dahms Foster Photo Most dogs love the cold and snow. Just make sure they have a warm, dry place to go and plenty of fresh water and nutritious food to keep them healthy during cold temps.
Temperatures in the Quad Cities have been freezing cold, even for this time of year, with lows of 11 and highs in the 30s. That's cold enough to cause some real discomfort and even health issues with your dogs and cats, especially if they are outdoor animals.
I hope your dog isn't tied to a doghouse while you're inside enjoying the cozy fireplace. It's a lonely existence, especially for a social animal. It always amazes me to see people place their kennels or doghouses far away from the house. Presumably this is to keep smell and flies away, but if your animal, his house and bedding is clean, and you scoop waste every day, this is not a problem to begin with. Your dog is a living, social creature, not a lawn ornament.
While you or the kids might spend a lot of time outside with the animals during warm summer months, everyone goes inside when it's cold, and those same animals can miss out on social interaction during the winter. Bring your dog inside, or determine to spend time walking or playing with it every day, even on cold days.
Our local governments all have ordinances that at the very minimum, pets must have decent shelter and clean water and food at all times. That's especially important now.
Ideally, if your animals are outside for any amount of time during the day or night, they need a shelter that is enclosed on all sides and top with a preferably small entry to keep out cold wind and rain/snow. The floor of the shelter also should be up off the ground.
Many pet outlets sell good, lightweight but strong, insulated doghouses with raised floors and small doors. These are good for helping to keep your pet warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. Check out the way the prevailing wind blows in your area, and place the door away from the wind. That will go a long way toward keeping your pet comfortable.
If your dog will leave bedding in the shelter, it's ok to place blankets or other soft material inside. Otherwise, shavings or straw will help to make a cozy bed. It's important to make sure it stays dry, and is frequently changed to prevent insects and mold. Proper shelter is important for pets' health if they are outside animals 24/7, or if they only stay out while you're at work, or for short periods.
Watering is another chore that needs special attention in very cold weather. Many people don't realize that freezing cold as well as heat can cause dehydration. The temperature can be very cold, with very low humidity. It's important that pets have clean, unfrozen water at all times. Don't think it will thaw during the day - when the temps barely get above freezing, that's not going to happen. You might have to take a bucket of hot water out a couple times a day to thaw the water bowl!
Don't forget that outside cats will seek warm places, including car engines, to stay warm. Make sure you thump on your car hood before you start up, so you don't kill a kitty.
Cold winter days are a good time to keep a close eye on your pet's weight, because they need more calories to stay warm, with the calorie requirements going up in proportion to the time they're outside.
Most dogs have a blast in snow, but use care to make sure they eat and drink enough, it's a lot of exercise! And they can slip and injure themselves on ice just like we can.
Your dog depends on you to stay safe and healthy, whether it's an indoor or outdoor animal. Special attention to shelter, water and food, and socialization, will ensure you both make it through a tough winter!