Maintaining an outdoor dog requires a little thought process to ensure your pet is comfortable, healthy, and safe. Although, many people will argue about the pro’s and con’s of keeping your dog outside, we only strive to keep your pet safe no matter what choice you make. An outdoor dog is any dog that spends more than 10 minutes outside, at a time, on a regular basis (i.e. – “My dog is only outside while I’m at work”).


1. How will you protect your pet from the elements?

It is fairly easy to protect your pet in all but the harshest of environments. A simple dog house will help keep rain off their head and provide adequate shelter. It is necessary to think about where you shall put the dog house and ensure it is properly leveled to keep rain outside. A good, sturdy dog house will help keep the cold away. Primarily, this is done by reducing the wind chill factor and keeping heat, produced by your dog, maintained within the house. A dog house also provides protection from the sun. Additional shade is also recommended, especially during the summer months. Consider keeping your dog house under the shade of trees.

2. What about food and water?

Again, fairly simple. There should be an almost unlimited supply of water available for your dog. Common practices include daily dumping, scrubbing, and filling your dogs water bowl with fresh water. There are also newer products on the market that hook directly to your outdoor water faucet. Consider this option. Although it won’t clean itself, it will provide fresh water all the time. It will be necessary to remember to clean the waterer on a regular basis, consider weekly as a minimum.

Food is usually not a problem. Again, in all but the worst of circumstances, a well balanced premium dog food is all that is necessary to maintain your dog. If you find this is inadequate, consider talking to your veterinarian about “active” dog food. This type of food has a higher caloric density, however, it is highly unlikely that your dog will need this food.

3. What about vaccinations?

It is strongly recommended to visit the American Animal Hospital Association or the American Veterinary Medical Association to view current vaccine recommendations. If your dog is living outdoors, they are considered to be at higher risk for common diseases. Your local veterinarian is also a great source of information regarding vaccines.

4. What about keeping my dog in the backyard?

There are numerous opportunities listed on this website. Please refer to our Learning Guide for options and more information.

5. What about flea and heartworm preventions?

All dogs should be on heartworm preventions. The only effective heartworm preventions are prescription medication. You will need to get these medications from your veterinarian. If you have any other questions, please visit the American Heartworm Society.

Flea prevention is critical for the comfort of your pet. A dog or cat that lives outdoors is at high risk for catching fleas. Keep your dog on flea prevention will likely prevent developing a flea infestation. The newer medications will kill fleas as they climb onto your pet. Some medications even kill the flea before they bite your pet.

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