In advance of the impending severe weather expected across Indiana tonight, we've compiled this list of cold weather care tips for dogs.
1. Dogs should be brought inside at night and when it is coldest outside. Even a basement is much warmer than it is outside. Short-haired dogs such as pit bulls suffer the most in cold weather. If a dog is chained, Indianapolis ordinance requires the dog be brought indoors at night.
2. Dogs require shelter whenever they are outside. During the winter, a dog house will keep a dog dry and maintain body heat. The house should only be large enough for him to turn around inside and not much bigger, and should be half-filled with straw for bedding and insulation. Face the opening to the south and nail heavy plastic or cloth strips over the door to keep the wind outside and body heat inside.
3. A dog needs extra food to stay warm during the winter, and should be fed twice as much when the weather is very cold. A high-calorie canned food helps provide extra energy in the cold.
4. Dogs cannot get enough water from snow or ice, and must have liquid water to drink. A five-gallon bucket of water is ideal because it will not freeze as quickly as a small bowl. To keep the bucket from tipping, attach it to a dog house, fence or tree, or place a large brick or rock in the bottom. Remove the ice film on top at least twice each day.
5. A dog must be able to move around to stay warm in the cold. If a dog is on a chain, it should be at least 12 feet long, with swivels at both ends to keep it from tangling.
Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside is a 501(c)3 animal welfare organization that focuses on helping low-income dog owners improve the quality of life for their outside dogs. Dog owners who have questions or need assistance with their outside dogs are encouraged to call FIDO at 317-221-1314.