I have a Rat Terrier who lives outside. Is there a way where I can keep her warm, inexpensively?
By Kayla from southern IL
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Put red cedar chips in the dog house.
She needs the inside of her house to be cozy, as draft-free as possible, and dry, You don't want the space to be too big, or she won't be able to warm it with her body heat and will lose too much. It should not be a lot bigger than she is--she should be able to stand up, and turn around, but not much more. Cedar chips are nice, as she can nestle down in them. Blankets are nice, but check them periodically to be sure they're staying dry. If there is a chance the inside of the house might get wet, you'll want something to keep her off the damp--old doormats, or the like might help. Her doorway shouldn't be straight open to invite the winds in. If you can, block it so she just fits through, and if possible, make a "tunnel" of sorts, with a bend or a curve. The house should be insulated as much as possible. If you could get bales of hay or straw to stack around and over it, it would provide amazing insulating qualities, then you could use the straw in the garden in the spring, or as mulch around your plants. If hay or straw is not a possiblitiy, anything with some air space in it (corrrugated cardboard from packing boxes, scraps of insulation meant for a home, etc.) should be packed around her house, and on the roof (then covered with plastic or something to protect it from the elements); and under it if it is raised.
As important as keeping her warm is making sure she has access to water at least twice, and preferably 3 or 4 times each day. She will need more calories, so be sure you're feeding her more than in the summer.
If you need any more hints, don't hesitate to call your local animal shelter and ask for advice. All they want to do is insure animals are well taken care of. They can help you know if you're doing enough, and may be able to help if you need it.
I have a neighbor with a small outside dog (I think its part terrier) he has the dogs bed on the porch and a lamp that you normally use for plants shining on the bed. Its not close enough to burn the dog but it does keep it warm.
My dog lived in my patio in a homemade dog house with my little dog. They slept on an old quilt or a standard pillow and I put a silver coated light bulb inside the dog house for them so that the light of if wouldn't glare in their eyes and they could bask in the moderate warmth the bulb gave off. I made their classic dog house so the roof panel on one side could open and change the lightbulb and check for spiders and cleaning was simple. A flap over the door kept out the wind.
I also have an outdoor cat that sleeps under my home snuggled up against the heater/ac ducts that go throughout my house with her pal the possum. She can also sleep where the dryer vents cownward. If you do a lot of laundry that is. I share her with a neighbor and she sleeps under their house in the same way. All she needs is a silver coated light down there. The cat is now about 5 years old and survives remarkably well for the frigid overnight temps we get here in Januarys and Februarys.
An inexpensive solution? Throw an old blanket on the floor and let the family pet indoors.
I have a 10 X 20 dog kennel and a 10 X 20 cat kennel in the back yard that I hang heavy plastic in the winter. The cat kennel has a very large rubbermaid (what you put a riding lawnmower in and I hang a 200 watt lamp inside of it with a lamp on the other 10 feet of kennel. It is very nice and warm in there. The dog kennel is very hard to keep the plastic up due to 2 of my 3 dogs that love to tear everything down. I have 4 dog houses full of shavings and they have blankets and quilts all over the place.
If your dog has a doghouse, add straw; not hay so it doesn't affect your pet's health. Straw is also cleaner. Put some plastic covering over the dog house to break drafts and tape/staple in place. A carpet sample bought at any carpet store for a buck or two can be stapled over the top of the door entrance to keep strong wind, snow, rain and ice from entering. Your dog should be really warm and cozy laying in a thick bedding of straw.
IF your dog doesn't have a doghouse, then make one from a cardboard box and cover it well with plastic to keep from getting wet. The homeless use cardboard boxes to sleep in. It's good for stopping winds from entering. Just aim the entrance away from the direction the winter blasts of air blow. I would still use straw for a thick bedding and put a throw rug over the door entrance leaving a space for the dog to come in/out freely.
Setting the makeshift shelter next to the house also helps to break a lot of the strong winds and keeps your pet warmer.
What about buying your dog a sweater to wear while it's outside? In the extreme winter temperatures, I'd bring the dog indoors, if only in a garage or utility room. Block off the entrance with a baby gate and the dog cannot go anywhere else in the house.
I'm with KansasCindy, why have a dog if you just keep in isolated in the backyard? He wants to be inside with his "pack", you! Put down some old blankets and invite him in. If you are worried about carpets and furniture, keep him in the parts of the house that are "safe." No dog wants to live outside alone and cold.
Small, short-haired dogs are not meant to live outdoors; if you don't want the dog inside, then find him a home where he can be inside and is part of the family. Leaving a small dog out in the winter is cruel.
A dog is part of the family. You want him/ her to be an orphan? Your dog is cold and lonely outside. If you don't want this little short haired dog, give it to someone who will love and cherish it enough to give it a place in the home where it belongs. They have feelings, you know.
If the doghouse is close enough to your house, and if the dog is not a chewer, a neat little heater can be made by taking a tin can and shaping it to be square sided. Then buy a light bulb holder that can be plugged into a heavy duty extension cord and put it in the back of the doghouse. Use a low wattage bulb inside the tin can. Plug it into an outside plug in, or slip the cord in through a basement window or place for ventilation and plug it in inside. My husband did it years ago for a Cocker Spaniel we had, and Goliath loved it!
Poor little dog. Bring it inside so that it can be warm and part of your family. People who leave animals outside in the winter should not have animals. Little short haired dogs are prone to be cold anyway. If you live with someone who is influencing you to keep that little dog outside, then get rid of the influence the dog is more important. If you can't bring it inside, find it a caring home where it will be cherished and can be part of a real family.
I agree that a rat terrier needs to live indoors in the Winter! They are not Winter living equipped and, although they do like to play outside in the cold for short periods of time, they are not dogs who are equipped like Malamutes, Border Collies, St. Bernard's, etc to live outside in the cold and even those breeds need a shelter equipped with lots of insulation, blankets and a bed! Plus, rat terriers are very social and it's simply not healthy emotionally for them to be banned alone in the cold and especially the cold Winters in the Midwest! If you are not willing to keep your baby in the house during the Winter then please find her a home where she can cuddle with a family for warmth and social love!
With all due respect, keeping a short haired small dog outdoors in the winter is bordering on abuse physically and certainly is emotionally. What is the reason you want this dog? You certainly aren't providing the basic shelter and attention it needs. If money is an issue contact a humane society and they can help you with food although I doubt a small dog can eat that much. Better yet see if they can help you find a Rat Terrier rescue group that would love to find a family that can provide for your little guy. If you really love this dog you will find a home that can give it the shelter it deserves.
A rat terrier is not an outside dog for a cold climate. It is a short haired dog that needs protection from the elements and should be brought inside. Please don't leave the dog outside for any length of time.
Hello, Are you kidding me! You want to keep that poor dog out in the cold? Please give that dog to family that will love and take care of him. I can't imagine the isolation your dog feels.
That little furbaby is not an outside dog. Please take it inside or give to a family that will have an indoor dog. Terriers are not outside dogs! Good luck and please do the right thing for your pet.
Ditto! To all below. That dog is not an outside dog. Maybe if enough people say so, it must be true and it is. The dog can get easily frostbitten in the climate where you live. Keep it indoors at least on the cold nights
I seriously doubt that a Rat Terrier can survive a winter outside in Illinois, even with adequate shelter. I would suggest that you find a home for this dog and if you feel you must have a dog, get a husky or husky mix. Know that you are required by law to have shelter (off the ground) food and water available for your dog at all times. The fines for ignoring this are steep. The Igloo dog houses are very good (not inexpensive). I recommend you find a new home for your dog where it can get the care it needs.
A rat terrier doesnt have a thick undercoat, she's not built to be outside like that. Please bring her inside or give her to someone who can! That's just unfair.
May I ask what the people did in the 1800's with Rat Terriers? Rat terriers were bred to catch rats on farms, not to sit inside all day and do nothing. She has adequate water, food, and very warm sheltering. On very cold nights, we can put her in the barn with the other animals and close it up tightly to keep her warmer. Thank you for your input and I hope I am not being to rude, but I don't understand people who have house dogs that were bred to be outside. I don't think it is fair to have a dog cooped up in the house where they can't run, except when they are let out to go to the bathroom. How would you like it if you were locked up?
What was the purpose of getting the dog if the poor thing is going to be left outside all the time? How much attention do you actually give her? Only when you give water and food? Do you go outside in the winter and sit and play with her or is it just in passing? So while your nice and toasty warm inside at night the dog is all alone in the dark and cold? Your better off giving the dog to someone that will actually show her love and spend time with her. I feel sorry for her, she deserves better.
Kayla/countrydoglover, absolutely no offense meant here! Yes, rat terriers were used to catch rats for hundreds of years (and used for the sport of rat-baiting too) but we don't live in the 1700's, 1800's or early 1900's anymore. Whether or not this is a pet or working dog, have you heard of doggie doors that can be used for the house and/or barn? They aren't terribly expensive and then the dog can come and go as it pleases. ;-)
Kayla/countrydoglover, You got metaphorically slapped about the head and shoulders for this question. I don't doubt that you meant well, as you were looking for a way to keep your dog warm, but I agree that you needed a wake up call: As "Deeli" mentioned, we don't live in past centuries anymore and have learned that domesticated pets unnecessarily subjected to outdoor temperatures that could shorten their lives is not a humane way to proceed in the 21st century.
No one is suggesting that you keep your country dog indoors all day. Of course they need to work and run. What most think you are not recognizing is that dogs are pack animals and want to stay with and protect their pack (their fellow furs and their humans) and this loyalty deserves mutual inter-species respect. Us humans don't need to set a plate for them at the table, but seriously, how hard is it to let them sleep in the utility room?
As well, the smaller breeds were never bred to live long lives outdoors. Like you said, they were bred to kill rats or spook off predators of other livestock and die as they die with little real intent (on the part of the original breeders) for a happy, healthy, long life. Again, many folks don't believe this is an acceptable attitude for this day and age.
Seriously. Can't you just let a little rat terrier sleep in your house at night? I thought of your original post last evening as I let my two, 200 plus pounds each, mastiffs in to cuddle on the couch. My dogs don't know how lucky they are, but your poor tiny, lone, outdoor rat terrier, living through the outdoor cold of a mid west winter all alone, sure does.
I'm grateful for your concern. I'm more hopeful, however, for your reconsideration of keeping this tiny dog outdoors, 24/7/365. I sincerely believe you will all be happier and healthier for negotiating a comprise of sorts. Please consider the options.
Link to animal cruelty statutes in the state of Illinois:
If the dog doesn't have adequate shelter from the elements in place, the owner can be charged, "even without malice".
And, this news piece is pretty intense, and from the state of Michigan; but, winter weather is winter weather in IL or MI:
The Humane Society describes adequate outdoor shelter for dogs as a " well-built, slant roofed insulated doghouse filled with straw".
Small or short-haired dogs like this terrier should be brought inside when the temp F is 20 or below and even the burlier, larger, thick-coated breeds need to come in when the thermometer nears zero.
You also have to take into consideration precipitation and wind chill. If it's below 30 outside, snowing and winds are 13 mph--every dog needs to come inside.
As a passionate animal lover I have to agree with the others here. I can't for the life of me understand why any human would keep any fur baby out in the cold 24/7, period. :(
I am chiming in on this one ... a rat terrier being kept outside in the winter is abuse, plain and simple. That poor thing, alone on the most frigid of nights while his/her owners are enjoying the warmth and comfort of an indoor "home". Get that dog inside! I am appalled!
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