Winter Care for Working Farm Dogs

| 11/4/2016 10:08:00 AM

Pups and sheep

Sarplaniac pups by Louise Liebenberg, Grazerie, Alberta

Winter is coming and with it lots of well-meaning folks saying that all dogs need to come inside. However, many hardworking farm or ranch dogs need to be outside in weather of all types, especially livestock guardian dogs who need to protect their charges day and night. These breeds are hardy and well-adapted to outside living even in winter.

Besides proving acceptable shelter and care for the winter, there are guidelines you can use to assess a particular dog’s ability to be outside for extended periods in winter. Proactive preparation demonstrates your concern for your working dog and will also help you answer any potential concerns or complaints.

Winter Assessment for Outside Dogs

Acclimatization. Being outdoors continuously from warmer weather into winter helps a dog adapt his body and coat to cold weather. Dogs cannot be thrust suddenly from warm to cold temperatures, but require time to adjust.

Age. Very young (under 8 weeks unless with dam) and older dogs may be vulnerable to cold, if they are unable to regulate their body heat or have a meager or poor coat.

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