Is your dog house legal?

Giving Your Dog Proper ShelterIt is strongly recommended that all pets be kept indoors with the family.

Leaving dogs outside can be physically, emotionally, and behaviorally detrimental, especially if he is chained or tethered.

Dogs are flesh and blood. In the wild, they find or dig themselves a cozy den to curl up in during frigid weather. Their fur, like your own winter coat, offers some protection, but not immunity to the cold. Small and shorthaired breeds like Pointers and Dobermans can’t handle the cold well.  Puppies and elderly dogs are especially susceptible to cold and should not be left outside for more than a few minutes during cold snaps.

Is Your Dogs’ house Legal?

The law requires a pet to have access to “proper” shelter at all times.  Below are some guidelines for your dogs’ house:

  • Use hard plastic or painted wood (metal rusts and conducts heat and cold).
  • Make sure it does not leak.
  • Raise it off the ground several inches.
  • It should face south in winter, North in summer.
  • Put a flap over the door (clear vinyl, burlap, and old rug or rubber mat with strips cut vertically).
  • The roof should extend 8” over the door to keep the rain out.
  • Nail a strip of wood at the bottom of the doghouse door to keep bedding from spilling out.  Don’t use rugs or blankets—they absorb water and can freeze.  A thick bed of straw makes a good bed.  Add straw every few weeks since the straw packs down.
  • Put water in a sturdy, tip resistant bucket and use a pail/birdbath deicer.  If a deicer is not used, check for freezing several times a day during winter.  Put the bowl inside a rubber tire to prevent tipping.
  • The house should be large enough to allow the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably, but small enough to enable the dog to retain body heat.
  • The house should have a slanted, waterproof roof to allow rainwater to run off.
  • The door should be just large enough for your dog to enter easily.
  • In warmer months, the dog should also be provided with shade such as a large tree or tarp.  A doghouse in direct sun becomes an oven and will not keep a dog cool.

If you have more than one dog, you need to provide a doghouse for each one.

If you are concerned about a dog that is frequently chained or otherwise left outside without proper shelter, food, or water, please contact your local humane society or Police Department.  A growing number of anti-cruelty laws and ordinances include “adequate care standards” that make it illegal to keep a dog outside without proper shelter.  (A few communities have even enacted ordinances prohibiting the tethering of dogs.)

Winter care tips for your dog

Protect Your Pet from Winter Short-haired animals will also benefit from a cozy sweater or coat.
When the mercury plummets, animals need extra protection from the elements.  Take the following precautions to ensure animals’ safety and help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months:
  • Don’t leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops.  Bring animals inside, particularly puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, Rottweilers, pit bulls, and Dobermans.  Shorthaired animals will also benefit from a cozy sweater or coat.
  • No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life.  A dog is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors.  If your dog is an outdoor dog, however, he/she must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. Doghouses should be made of wood or plastic (metal conducts cold) and positioned in a sunny, sheltered location during cold weather.  The house should face south, away from the wind.  Raise the house off the ground several inches and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap. Use straw for bedding-rugs and blankets hold moisture and freeze up.
  • Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam freely outdoors.  During winter, cats sometimes climb up under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are killed or badly injured when the car is started.  (To help prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine.)  Animals can also become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground.  More animals are lost during the winter than any other season.
  • Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy.   Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.  Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal. Use electric heated water bowls.
  • Salt and other chemicals can make an animal sick if they are ingested while the animal grooms himself or herself.  Clean off your dog’s or cat’s legs, feet and stomach after coming in from the snow.
  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals.  Wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach. Buy antifreeze made with propylene glycol (brands include Sierra and Prestone Lowtox) instead of ethylene glycol, which is a deadly poison even in small doses.
  • Keep an eye out for strays, too.  Bring unidentified animals inside until you can find their guardian or take them to an animal shelter.  If strays are wild or unapproachable, provide food, water and shelter (stray cats will appreciate a small doghouse filled with warm bedding) and call the local humane society for information about trapping them and getting them safely indoors.

The best protection for your dog is inside with you and your family.  The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time.  Dogs are social animals that crave human companionship.  Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.

Summer care tips for your dog

Hot, Dog Days of SummerThis summer, DON’T FORGET:  Dogs don’t sweat like you do. Keep cool water for your pet and check their shade.


Every summer dogs left in hot cars suffer brain damage and die.  Even opening windows or parking in the shade won’t prevent a dog from getting overheated. The heat is especially hard on dogs because they can’t perspire and can only cool themselves by painting and by sweating through the pads of their feet.  With only hot air to breath, dogs and other animals can suffer irreparable brain damage and die from heatstroke.

If you see an animal in a parked car during the summer, alert the management of the shopping mall or store.  If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or police immediately.  Look for signs of heat stress - heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, staggering, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.  If the pet becomes overheated, the body temperature must be lowered immediately by moving him to the shade and apply cool (not cold) water to his body to gradually lower his temperature, apply ice packs to the head, neck and chest only, let him drink small amounts of water, and take him to a veterinarian directly - it could save his life.

Don’t make a tragic mistake: Please don’t leave your pet in a parked car on a warm day.  It’s cruel and is punishable by law.  On warm days, your pet is safer at home!


  • Don’t take a chance-leave your dog at home on warm days. Even just a quick trip to the store can be deadly.
  • Don’t carry a dog unrestrained in a pick-up truck bed. A dog can be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves, or hit by another car.   Dogs should ride either in the cab or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck.  Besides being extremely dangerous the hot metal can burn dog’s feet.
  • Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them.
  • Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tag. If you are separated from your pet, an ID tag may be his only way home.
  • Check with your veterinarian about heartworm prevention. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal in dogs and cats.
  • Pets and pools can equal disaster. Prevent free access to pools and always supervise a pet in a pool.
  • Another summertime threat is fleas and ticks. Some over the counter flea and tick products can be toxic, even when used according to instructions.
  • Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events such as concerts or fairs.  The loud noises and crowds, combined with the heat, can be stressful and dangerous for pets.  For your pet’s well being, leave him/her at home.  Be especially aware of these threats during holidays, such as the Fourth of July.