This winter, thousands of dogs around the country will spend freezing nights alone outdoors, while their families are snuggled up in the warmth inside. Many dog owners wrongly believe that a dog’s coat insulates them from the cold, or that a dog house provides adequate protection against the elements. Many believe that an insulated dog house somehow traps and retains a dog’s body heat, creating a warm and cozy sanctuary for their pet.
“America’s Pet Advocate,” veterinarian and author, Dr. Ernie Ward is passionate about speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves and promoting a healthier lifestyle for people and pets. Three years ago, Dr. Ward famously spent 30 minutes in a hot car to demonstrate the pain, misery, and helplessness that a dog would feel trapped inside.
This time, Dr. Ward set out to show just how painful and helpless a dog feels when left overnight in the freezing cold of winter, with only their dog house for warmth. Armed with a timer and a thermometer, the veterinarian huddled inside a typical igloo-style dog house to see just how cold it gets and what a dog experiences:
Even on a relatively mild winter night, without snow and heavy winds, even while bundled in layers of thermal clothing, high-tech snow gear, a heavy coat, boots and gloves, Dr. Ward described the intense, painful cold as he struggled to maintain composure. While outside temperatures were around 8-degrees F, temperatures inside the dog house, after only 4 hours of Dr. Ward huddled inside, were only a few degrees warmer, around 14-degrees – far from comfortable or even bearable.
Not only is the practice of keeping dogs outside in dog houses in winter potentially life-threatening, Dr.Ward says that, after his experience, “you will never be able to convince me that these animals aren’t suffering.”
It’s our responsibility to provide the best care and quality of life to the animals we love. Leaving them in the cold does not achieve that.