Merck Manual

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Special Needs of Outdoor Dogs

Special Needs of Outdoor Dogs

Shelter Requirements

  • Dogs should always have access to a shelter that protects them from the elements (heat, sun, rain, cold, or other bad weather).

  • Shelters should be large enough for the dog to turn around but not so large that they can’t be warmed by body heat.

  • Shelters should have a good roof and be high enough off the ground to keep the dog dry in heavy rain or snow.

  • Shelters that have flexible working doors can help keep the elements out, while allowing dogs to go in and out at will.

Nutritional Requirements

  • In cold weather, outside dogs need twice as many calories as usual to produce enough body heat to keep themselves warm. They should be fed double their regular amount of high-quality dog food, split into several feedings to prevent digestive problems from eating meals that are too large.

Companionship Requirements

  • Outside dogs need companionship, which can be provided by housing outside dogs together and by frequent human contact.

  • Dogs that are housed together require a shelter large enough to accommodate more than one dog, or multiple smaller shelters should be available.