Wind chill impact on dogs

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Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby ChaseK9 » Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:42 pm

This may be a really stupid question, but how does wind chill affect dogs? I have two GSD's and the one that primarily lives outside has a very thick undercoat. This week my area has colder temps, with regular temps hovering around 10 degrees F. However, w/ wind chill, they are down to about -5. To me that's cold enough that I keep him inside, but it's right at the threshhold, and I never know how much attention I should be paying to windchill versus just the normal temp. Anyone researched this or read anything? I couldn't find much during my searches. All the windchill charts I saw were made for people. I figure if I have a heavy coat on and the windchill still affects me because it's so low, maybe that's similar to a dog....but I just don't know.

And just in case anyone would get upset that he stays outside, it's for several reasons. He's a working dog and needs to be acclimated to weather (to a certain point). He's extremely destructive and if left out of eyesight will destroy anything in the house (including the walls)....which means that he has much more freedom and space to roam if I have him in his fenced kennel space outside. He prefers to have that space outside....even in 15 degree F weather, unless he is sleeping in his very nicely built custom dog house, he is found laying around or just hanging out outside of the house on the snow. Just thought I'd pre-answer in case :/
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby sammy » Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:14 pm

That's a tough one and I'm sure no expert. I'm not sure there are hard and fast rules because there are so many different levels of "well insulated dog houses" and other factors that go into the equation such as bedding, how many dogs are in it. Some dog houses have a small turn in them so no wind comes in at all. I would think that in a well insulated dog house of the right size (small enough that body heat isn't lost) and with proper bedding he'd be ok. Around here most farm dogs are outdoor dogs all year round and it gets mighty cold. I know some people heat dog houses with things like a lightbulb on particularly cold nights or bring the dog into a porch area that is warmer than the outdoors but not as hot as a house. Do you have anything like that? When I've seen outdoor dogs brought in on cold days, the often seem uncomfortably hot.
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby bionicmlle » Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:28 pm

When I was a kid, my dad would bury a heating pad set on the lowest setting under all the bedding for our dogs. I was a little girl, so I don't remember what he did (if anything) to train them not to dig under their bedding, but I don't remember them ever having a trouble chewing on the cord. I don't think I'd do that with my dogs now, but I probably would try to put something warm in their bed at bedtime to try to get everything warmed up at bedtime. I've seen some sacks filled wtih rice/barley/grains that you can put in the microwave....
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby sfbowers » Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:59 pm

At the vet clinic I work at we fill two large men's socks up with rice and heat them in the microwave for 5 minutes. We place them on either side of a pet during surgery to minimize heat loss. They stay warm for a long time.
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby Jeano » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:06 am

Heating pads? Lightbulbs?? What kind of dog are we talking about?

You do NOT need an insulated dog house. That's no good, the dog will sweat inside and get wet and then get REALLY cold.

I AM an expert in cold weather and dogs and here is what you do:

A nice wood dog house on legs, just big enough for the dog to climb in and snuggle into the clean, dry straw that you've just stuffed it nearly full of.

The hole to the doghouse should be off center so the dog can get out of the wind. The door should face away from the prevailing winds. Dogs acclimated to the outdoors can live in a doghouse like this up to -50. And do.
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby Liz » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:21 am

:sign_hijack: Looks more like a lookout point than a dog house! lol
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby Jeano » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:19 am

What can I say, we have a lot of huskies masquerading as Snoopy up here! :grin:
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby Sabine » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:34 am

My Great Dane in Germany lived outside part time until we moved to a place where that wasn't possible anymore (he was about 5 or 6 years old when we moved).

He stayed indoors during the day and was outside overnight and when we weren't home.

I can only speak for temperatures of up to around -14 F, but he did well with that.

Our setup was a small dog house filled with straw (like Jeano described) with a cutout to connect it to a bigger garden shed with a window and a doggy door to the outside, since in Germany it rains a lot and we wanted a bigger space for him to spend time without being curled up in his "sleeping house" when it was pouring outside.

This was placed inside a ~1,200 square feet securely fenced grassy area in our back yard. Too bad I don't have any photos of it.
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby Colleen » Tue Jan 15, 2008 5:38 am

Our Newfoundland dogs stay outside while we are at work. The most important thing is to have a dog that "can" tolerate the weather. For example I would never leave Beau outside on a cold day as he would have a hard time dealing with it. Athena and Chance would be able to tolerate it and I think the Newf's perfer being outside as it does get too hot in the house for them at times. As long as they have shelter to get out of the weather and is solid enough to cut back on the winds.

This winter we have had wind chills at about -30 Celsius as long as the Newf's have hay in their dog house to curl up in they are perfectly happy. Hay seems to be a perfect insulating type bed for them and I would also feel comfortable leaving Athena and chance out in the kennel during the day as I know they wouldn't have any problems. Dogs and horses etc can withstand colder tempertures than we humans (depending on the breed of dog), their coats are much more efficiant at keeping them regulated and warm than any winter coat we can buy. I for one could never go swimming in the freezing cold waters in minus 20 weather like my dogs do with pleasure. Athena and chance will go into the cold ocean waters in the middle of winter and Beau will wade in the water going back to the ocean that never freezes over but is very cold...I would have frost bite so quick it would be scary.

Here's our dog house.
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The back of the dog house we keep a small area fenced off to keep them from the large compound when the snow is too deep.
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Inside of the dog house with hay for warmth
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The dog house (shed converted to dog house)
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby ChaseK9 » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:50 am

Wow...cool pics everyone :thumbup: I love seeing different ideas for houses and kennels. And what a beautiful lookout pic Jeano ;) Someday (I wish sooner rather than later) I really want to build a shed sort of thing that would be an enclosed area for him to hang out when he's not in his dog house. In fact, maybe I'll start pricing it out for next year....we already have a number 1 project for the spring, but think I'll make this number 2.

His dog house is pretty great for cold weather...kind of a slightly different version of the one Jeano showed in the pic. I have cedar chips inside and he's well protected from the wind. I just don't want him to have to lay in there all day/night if it's way too cold. I know they sleep a lot, but would like him to be able to stretch out a little more for periods of time. I guess kinda what Mordanna was saying in regards to the rain...somewhere other than his house where he can be protected from the elements.

The wind chill issue - today is a great example. Later this afternoon, it's supposed to be around 20 degrees F, which is quite tropical for him and me :cool: But....the windchill temp will be about 4 degrees at that time. Such a big difference that I don't know which one to look at closer. I know he can handle being in his dog house at the lower end, but I'm not sure if that's too cold for hanging out/stretching out outside of the house (due to the windchill).

Right now I've got him inside until it gets at least above zero F; mostly so I can hang out with him and let him move around a little without being confined to the dog house (which I know he'll stay in full time below zero). He also handles temp changes fairly well, probably in part because during the work week he's in a car with me. Although I compromise and keep the temp lower than I want so he can be acclimated, and the windows down partially in back, I think it allows him to adjust better than some dogs to coming inside. I also have his room in our lower house level, which tends to be cooler.

And the heating ideas are very neat, although not for this pup :crazy: The only items I can have in his kennel are his house and water bucket. And he's even chewed a little on the wind baffle inside the dog house. I can't even do a heated water bowl because he'd chew on the cord....so I just make frequent trips outside on our days off to keep fresh water for him.
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby bionicmlle » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:23 pm

Jeano - it's certainly a matter of perspective, isn't it?? I can't imagine staying out in the cold myself but I also can't imagine myself with a nice warm fur coat on all the time. :) I guess we imagine ourselves in the dogs' position without considering the differences between humans and canine. I'm currently being reminded of all these things now, as I reread The Other End of the Leash. :)

Btw - of course I love your Snoopy picture! Where's Woodstock?
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Re: Wind chill impact on dogs

Postby BarksaLot » Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:22 pm

You all make me feel better about leaving the dogs outside. I've felt guilty kicking them out of the house at 6 am. They are penned up at 7 for when our contractor arrives and it's dark by the time they get out. They have enough room in it to be able to walk around, stretch their legs. Yes we've had some cold, rainy days and some cold wind, but nothing like what some of the rest of you have to deal with. There is a dog house which Taffy will go in, the other two don't want anything to do with it. Plus the pen is protected from the wind. I don't think our temp. has barely hit much below 30 degrees and that's only early in the morning, so I guess ours have it quite soft compared to those of you in the Northern climes.
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