Strictly outdoor dogs are becoming a thing of history. Not that long ago, it was common for the family pet to live solely outside. But times have changed. Their cushy lives and canned food means dogs aren’t quite as hearty as they used to be. Add to that a host of other changes to the outdoor environment and staying outside all the time may prove risky to your dog’s health.
Dog Dangers in the Great Outdoors
Some of the more common possible dangers to your canine friend include: pesticides, toxic plants, and other critters. Weather, however, is frequently overlooked, so for the purposes of this article, we’ll look at temperature related concerns.
Cold temperatures are dangerous for any dog, but short-haired dogs, young pups, older dogs, and sick dogs are clearly the most vulnerable to hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include: weakness, shivering, lack of mental alertness, fatigue, and shallow breathing. If the temperature outside falls to 40º F or below, try to find an indoor space for your pet. Although healthy, longer haired breeds can take colder temps, they should also be brought in, when it dips below freezing.
Hot temperatures come with equal challenges. The most susceptible breed are the short-nosed dogs, as they can get heat stroke easier from their lack of ability to cleanse their bodies of heat through panting.
The signs of heat stroke include: drooling, excessive panting, and deep red gums. Heat stroke can be fatal, if not treated. Most dogs are okay in the heat as long as there is shade. In some parts of the country, humidity adds to unbearably hot weather conditions. Dogs, like people, have individual susceptibilities, and some may be more sensitive to hot and cold weather than other dogs.
How To Safely Keep Your Dog Outdoors
Even though experts agree keeping your dog indoors is best, there are times when your pet might have to stay outside. If you have to leave your pet outside for a lengthy time period, take precautions to protect them.
In the cold seasons, invest in a doghouse with insulation and a waterproof roof. An outdoor pet heating blanket to put inside the doghouse provides extra peace of mind that your pup won’t freeze. Some stores even offer dual purpose heating pads that cool in the summer months. A smaller house is better, as it retains heat faster and more efficiently. The house should be large enough for your dog to stand up in and to turn around. If you have more than one pet, they should each have their own house — although depending on conditions, they may instinctively decide to huddle for additional warmth.
To ensure that Spunky has plenty of clean drinkable water, look into getting a heated water bowl so she doesn’t need to lick ice when she gets thirsty.
In the warmer months, dogs need access to someplace that has shade all day (even when the sun isn’t directly on them) and lots of clean drinking water. If the bowl doesn’t have a stand or solid construction to prevent it from falling over, a lightweight bowl can be kept from toppling over by digging a hole in the dirt to rest it in. Putting a bit of ice in the water and placing it in a shady area can help keep the water cool throughout the day. When it’s swelteringly hot out, have somewhere for your pet to sleep that is raised off the hot ground.
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