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Keep Your Woofer Warm In Winter

Keep Your Woofer Warm In Winter

The Royal New Zealand SPCA has called on dog owners to make sure their four-footed friends stay warm and healthy during the cold, wet, windy months ahead.

"If you own a dog, you have a legal obligation to look after it and that includes making sure it has adequate and proper shelter," says the RNZSPCA's Chief Executive, Peter Blomkamp.

"Dogs that spend lengthy periods of time out-of-doors, must have somewhere warm to snuggle-up in when the temperature drops or the rain starts pouring down. An obvious solution is a weatherproof and draught-free kennel.

"Another thing to remember is that cold ground or concrete can quickly disperse your dog's body heat and might be a cause of arthritis. Such problems can be substantially reduced if a kennel is filled with hay or straw, which is an inexpensive form of both bedding and insulation. However, the hay or straw will need to be changed regularly or both dog and kennel will become smelly. In fact, if dogs do smell, it's normally because they've been kept in smelly conditions.

"An accessible garden shed, garage or wash-house is a good way of providing additional shelter. But, inside that structure, owners should still provide their dog with either a kennel or box to sleep in, as these can help the animal retain body heat that might otherwise be lost," he adds.

As the weather gets colder, according to Mr Blomkamp, the SPCA regularly experiences a marked increase in complaints about dogs being tethered without shelter.

"In a majority of cases, when our inspectors investigate, they discover that the dog is in an underweight condition, probably because it's been fed inappropriately and is burning extra energy to keep warm," he says.

"The best place for most dogs to be on a cold winter's evening is indoors. It may not always be practical for a dog to be inside during the day, particularly if its owners are away working, and indeed farm dogs and working dogs have traditionally been kept out of the house. But none of these factors should prevent a dog being provided with adequate outdoor shelter.

"It's also important to provide shelter for those occasions when you are only planning a quick trip out but find, for some reason, that your return home is delayed," he says.

Mr Blomkamp adds that people who do not look after their dogs can be prosecuted and that the maximum penalty which the courts can impose for such offences is a fine of $25,000 and/or two months in prison.

"The cost of a weather-proof kennel is trivial in comparison with the fines imposable for the neglect of dogs. But our hope is that owners will look after their dogs properly not just because of the law but also because they genuinely care about them.

"None of us benefit from spending long periods in a cold, wet and hungry condition. If it happened to us consistently it would make us ill and might shorten our lives. Dogs aren't that much different," he says.

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