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SPCA calls on owners to keep dogs warm


For release: 27 May 2008

Snuggle Up With Your Pooch This Winter

SPCA calls on owners to keep dogs warm


With winter drawing near, the Royal New Zealand SPCA is appealing to dog owners to make sure their best friends stay warm through the cold months ahead.

"Your dog is part of your family and provides you with the precious gifts of unconditional love and companionship. So the very least you can do in return is make sure this ever-faithful friend is warm and comfortable all winter long, just like the human members of the family," says the Society's National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

"Give your dog his own special place in the house and a bed that's somewhere free from draughts. Remember that dogs lose body heat very rapidly and, just as with humans, a cold dog is extremely likely to be a sick and miserable dog.

"There may be times when you may need to leave your dog outside the house. Try to reduce those times to a minimum and, if it has to happen, make sure the dog has access to a proper shelter and to adequate food and water. And, remember, just like humans, dogs get hungrier as the temperature drops," she says.

"It's actually an offence under the Animal Welfare Act of 1999 to fail to provide your dog with adequate shelter. Offenders can face penalties of up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to $25,000 or both. The law takes neglect of animals seriously, and so should you," Robyn adds.

Normally, a suitable shelter would consist of a properly constructed kennel, large enough to provide a dog with room for standing-up, turning around and lying-down. There's no point having a kennel just big enough for a miniature poodle and expecting a great Dane to fit in.

Whatever its size, the kennel must be windproof and waterproof, with, ideally, a wooden floor, raised above the cold ground. A warm, dry blanket will help make the kennel even cosier. But, whatever else happens, your dog should never be allowed to sleep on concrete, as this can lead to particularly fast heat loss, even in summer.

As Robyn Kippenberger points out, one of the best ways of making sure your dog stays warm is to take him to work with you.

"There are quite a few workplaces that allow employees to bring their dogs with them. When this happens, you won't just be providing your dog with a warm place to spend the day. You will also be offering the companionship that dogs need in order to stay happy and well-adjusted. It's a win-win situation, as a workplace with a few wagging tails is normally a happier place for humans as well.

"Keeping your dog well-exercised is also essential to fighting the cold. Winter or summer, you should always make sure your dog has regular walks. But these walks become even more crucial during the winter months in order to prevent body heat loss. And, of course, a brisk walk with a canine companion is one of the best ways our own species has of keeping warm.

"Whatever the size or shape of your dog, one of the best things about winter can be snuggling up together in a nice cosy place. It's good for dogs and good for humans and makes us warm and contented," she says.


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