Signs are not wanting that wintry weather may be expected within a few weeks, and it is fitting that we should give some attention, at this time, to the wants of our dogs during what is for them the most trying season of the year.
The novice fancier, in particular, will need to considerable adequate housing and bedding of his charges, their feeding, exercise, and of necessity, the treatment of the various ailments and sicknesses which are almost inevitable in the best cared for dogs during the colder months of the year.
To whatever breed a dog belongs it goes without saying that he ought to be kept in a run (if he is not kept indoors) which is so constructed as to be dry under foot.
It is not enough that the sleeping apartment be dry and comfortable; a dog ought not to be obliged to stand about in a wet or muddy enclosure from which he can only escape by going from time to time in a wet and miserable state into his sleeping place.
Open air runs attached to kennels are all very well in summer time, when the inmates can lie out in the sun or retire into the shade of their inner chamber, as they are minded. Such open runs should be fitted with detachable corrugated sheets, and with side protection (wooden or otherwise) which will keep out wind and rain in bad weather.
In the inner sleeping place there should be a liberal sprinkling on the floor of sawdust or pine shavings. This is both absorbent and warm and if frequently cleaned out and replenished will keep the floor dry and sweet.
Tips On Bedding For Dogs In Cold Weather
Very important is the subject of bedding. No dog will remain healthy and free from cold (not to mention insect trouble) unless the bedding is warm and frequently changed.
Oat straw is soft and warm, and the addition of a little sweet hay helps to keep the dog warm. The bedding should always have beneath it a good layer of shavings. Huon pine for preference, because it does not encourage vermin.
Dogs kept indoors do not, of course, need more than a piece of clean hessian sacking folded double and placed in the sleeping box or basket.
In their case everything depends upon where they sleep. If in a warm kitchen, with a heater, for instance, going all night they need no extra bedding. If in a cold outhouse, they should be regarded generally as if sleeping entirely out of doors.
Small Dog Breeds
It is impossible to lay down strict rules that will apply to all breeds in all circumstances as regards winter sleeping quarters. There are some breeds like the long haired Scottish varieties that will sleep out in the open, quite happily and without taking any harm.
But the smooth haired dogs (and necessarily with the delicate toy dog breeds) clothing is frequently necessary. Flannel or wool jackets are not very difficult to make. So much depends upon the individual dog, upon his age, upon the amount of exercise he gets, and various other circumstances, that much must depend upon the experience and discretion of his owner.
The cold brings its own special complaints. Most of these are attributable to the effects of chills and colds no necessarily of cold weather as such. A dog well looked after should, If anything, be in better coat and better health generally in winter time than in summer time.
There are many troubles to be met with in hot weather: skin troubles, stomach troubles, epidemic diseases, etc., which entirely outnumber those attributable to cold weather, all of which either arise directly from chills or (as in the case of distemper) are to a large extent encouraged by colds and chills.
Winter ills comprise catarrh and lung trouble (including coughs and throat affections), gastric, liver and kidney troubles induced by chills and want of fresh air; troubles associated with the coat and skin, and distemper.
Winter Coat For Dogs
There is real need for novices in dog keeping to study the subject of the dog’s skin and coat more fully. It is so common to find in this manner too great a tendency to do the wrong thing, but to leave undone the really necessary thing when a dog’s coat is out of order or his skin has become irritated.
In winter time a dog’s coat should be at its very best. Nature has a wonderful way of providing protective skins and coats for her children of the animal world. Every dog should get a change of coat in the summer time, and the new growth should be ample to protect him from the winter’s cold.