Although most working dogs don’t technically need special kennelling in the winter, it is worth considering. By keeping your dogs warmer at night, they will use less energy (and therefore less food) warming themselves. Their muscles will not be as stiff in the morning, decreasing the chance of injury during work. Older working dogs (over eight years old) also experience significantly more joint stiffness and arthritis when colder.
What can we do to keep working dogs warm at night?
Ensure your dog’s kennels are:
- well insulated with dog-safe insulation on the inside or outside of the kennel (an old horse cover over the kennel is better than nothing)
- have a sloped roof
- adequate drainage system.
Kennels and beds should be raised off the ground, and placed in a sheltered area to avoid cold draughts.
Winter bedding should be warm and cozy. Bedding elevates your dog off the cold floor, wool filled sacks can work well. We also recommend creating “door flaps” that your dog can push through at the entrance of the kennel. These can be made out of heavy fabric and do a good job at stopping the wind. If your dog is a blanket shredder you can staple carpet down on the kennel floor for extra padding and warmth. Remember to always use non-toxic materials.
Coats / jackets
Another option is a pet coat, these come in many different sizes and styles. These provide the pet with an extra layer of warmth and protection, which is especially important for short-haired dogs, older, or younger animals. Make sure you are washing the coat regularly to prevent a build-up of bacteria. Once the temperature heats up take the coat off to prevent the animal from getting too warm, and to help prevent skin irritation and dermatitis.
Feeding quality food is important, as this will help to give your pet the energy they need to keep their body temperature up and not use fat reserves. Make sure fresh water is always available and is not frozen.
Senior working dogs
Our senior dogs need extra care over the cooler months. They often have arthritis and/or joint pain, and the cold damp weather can worsen these conditions; if you see your dog slowing down, please talk to your vet about a treatment plan.