Pet Care Tips: Year Round Dog Safety

If you have a large dog, then you know it can sometimes be very difficult to keep him or her indoors. Be it because of large size or type of dog, you may opt for your precious pooch to camp outside in the back yard like many dog owners opt to do year round. Being sure your pet is safe year round is easy and sometimes we overlook small things that can keep him or her safe or keep agencies like the SPCA or local dog warden off your back. Below are some suggestions to take into consideration when setting up a dog spot in your yard. You may think nothing is wrong until one bleary winter morning or scorching hot summer day an agent clad in an SPCA jacket comes knocking on your door to check on Fido. So being up to par beforehand will make everything easier in the long run, as I found out after speaking with a man who works with the SPCA.

Dog Houses

Remember a time when you could buy wood and build your own dog house? Well, before setting out to the lumber store to buy wood, be sure to check with your local town hall first. Why? Because on occasion, there will be an ordinance passed in your town or city that may even state specific types of dog houses they permit and even those that just are considered “trash”. Sure, you can shell out money to build a dog house with insulation, but it can be very costly and time consuming in the long run. Dog houses are mandatory for any dog outside for extended periods of time – mainly because in winter they provide protection and in the summer they provide shade (along with protect those dogs who don’t like to be out in the rain).

Making sure your dog is provided for in case of bad weather is as easy as going to a pet shop or even a K-Mart/Wal-mart and picking up one of their “igloo” style dog houses. They’re insulated and are within what most ordinances allow for. Be sure, though, as the agent told me, that when picking out a pre-made dog house to check for size. A dog should be able to sit, stand and turn around easily within. Some things that dog owners don’t truly realize or it just tends to slip the mind. Remember, though, that in bitter cold some dogs should be brought inside at night. Unless you own a Siberian Husky or other cold-climate dog. Then just be sure to check constantly to make sure the dog is safe.

Water Dishes and Food

When I asked the agent about dog water dishes in the winter, he stated it didn’t matter what kind of dish or bowl was used as long as it wouldn’t crack and was safe to use for water, such as an old stove pan nobody uses anymore or even a stainless steel bowl. In the winter, he told me, he found out that the most common forgetful act dog owners do is to check dog water several times a day. He stated this wasn’t so much as a reason to make sure it was still full like in the summer (when dogs seem to drink gallon upon gallon – in his opinion) but moreso to make sure that the water dish wasn’t pure ice. Nobody wants to have to keep replacing a broken dog water bowl, so checking it several times a day to either refill or empty the ice out also makes sure the dog has ample water.

He also stated quite clearly to not feel bad IF the dog water freezes over night. So should someone report you for not having your dog watered properly, they do understand that people sleep and can’t be out watering the dog in -10 F weather at 3am. But when you can get to the dog, be sure to get it filled with a fresh supply and while you’re at it, be sure to bring food out.

For our area, he stated they like to see a dog have food in their dish at all possible times, again, they understand overnight there might not be any left and that is something they do take into consideration. So be sure if you go out to water your dog that you check on the food supply in the dish and act accordingly. As he said it, “remember, a dog stays warm and healthy with both the food and water going through the system.” So check on it several times a day, he suggests, to make sure you’re doing all you can in regards to dog safety.


While the three main elements are taken care of above, the man emphasized on people being up to date on both shots and registration. He said people have gone years without registering a dog and it can lead to some pretty hefty fines. While that doesn’t technically keep your dog safe health-wise, it does keep your dog afe from being taken by a dog warden or pound due to being an illegal animal to posess. Registering a dog is relatively cheap and even moreso if the dog has been spayed or neutered. He said being certain to have an altered dog outside will also prevent any unwanted pregnancies which will lead to an overboarding of dogs – something the SPCA among other places, deal with on a daily basis. He said he’d been to houses where dogs had kept popping puppies until they easily had 40-50 dogs in a farmhouse.

Shots, he emphasized, are needed and required in order to register.

If you aren’t sure which shots you need, he said you can go to the town hall or local vet to find out. Generally the one they’re most dire in the dog having is the rabies shot, but also some places may require others – so if you don’t know then just ask. Those who know will be more than happy to help you.

His final suggestion for any and all dog owners in regards to dog safety was about leashes and chains. He said these tend to go ignored in most instances, especially in our rural area. He stated that while he hadn’t had a case since summer, that some people just ignore the mandatory leash rule. Dogs can not go unleashed and roam the country like some people let them do. He said not only is this to prevent dog attacks (which we all hear about far too often in the news, unfortunately) but to prevent your dog from possibly being struck by any vehicles on the road and causing a serious accident which can kill either animal or victims in the car.

He suggested a long enough chain to let the dog have ample room to run, but still be safe from harming others or being harmed itself. The dog should easily be able to enter and exit a dog house with said chain, as well as be able to reach the food and water dishes easily. He also emphasized on making sure the chain about the dog would not restrict breathing in any way or cause rubbing that can eventually lead to cutting the skin. While some of those are unintentional damages to the dog (and sometimes ones we can’t always avoid) he stated that if someone were to see it, there could possibly be an animal abuse or neglect case on your hands.

For a long time, people felt that an SPCA call to a house or apartment merely meant that the people boarding the animals were malicious. However, the SPCA also go out of their way to make people aware of what is required in their areas. Like I got to experience, they are willing to go out and speak to people who may be about to purchase their first dog so that they may be aware of what is proper and improper. This can save both you and the SPCA stressful trips to check on animals and allow them the time to tend to dire matters. So never be afraid to call up and ask questions. At least you and they know that you’re trying to make sure your dog is safe. If all else fails, you can always have them pop by willingly to just make sure you’re up to par. Not every SPCA (or other agency) visiting a house means that there’s abuse. Don’t feel bad if you’re unsure and need their help. That’s ultimately what they’re around for – animal safety.

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