Pet Talk: Choosing a proper dog house crucial

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If you want to stay out of the dog house with Poochie, make sure he has a warm, dry place to sleep in the winter and a cool place to nap in the summer.

Dr. Lore Haug, a veterinarian in Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says, “The perfect dog house for any canine companion is the climate-controlled house that its owner calls home.” But many pet owners rely on dog houses either as primary shelters or as an alternative to their pet staying outside to brave the elements while his owners are at work.

Selecting the perfect home-away-from home for your canine should take some thought and planning. In fact, when you’re shopping for dog houses, the most important point may be that one size does not fit all.

“The dimensions of the dog house really should be determined by the size of the dog,” said Haug. “Your dog should be able to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably inside of the dog house.” And, the dog house should be versatile enough to accommodate the extreme temperatures and humidity where you live.

Metal and plastic can absorb heat or freezing temperatures, negating some of the benefits of having the dog house for shelter. “Wood is the best material for making a dog house,” said Haug. “Make sure the wood is unpressurized, and be wary of toxic treatments.” Basically, if the wood and the paint used in constructing the dog house are identified as being safe for children, they should also be safe for Fido. “When dogs get bored, they tend to chew on their dog houses. You have to make sure that if they do, it won’t make them sick,” added Haug.

Peaked roofs can facilitate drainage, but flat or slightly slanted roofs may provide Fido with a loft bed. “Many dogs prefer to lie on top of their dog houses, so, you might want to consider a flat roof,” Haug said.

It is also important to make sure there are no sharp edges on the dog house and that the hardware has been well concealed, minimizing the chance for injury. And, while your canine may not need designer digs, there are some features worth the extra time and money that will provide added comfort and convenience.

Haug said: “Look for a dog house with an offset door or a second room, which will provide a wall which can break the wind or shelter him from a blowing rain. Adding a weather flap can accomplish the same goal.” If possible, elevate the dog house to help with parasite control and to deter flooding. Setting the dog house on a few well-placed cinder blocks or on a stable wooden pallet will do the trick.

“If you can, you’ll want to get a dog house with a hinged roof to make it easier to clean out,” said Haug. “To provide the ultimate in outdoor living, consider hinged windows which can provide additional ventilation and an awning to provide some shade in the summer.”

“Whether your canine companion is short or tall, skinny or plump, don’t forget that your dog deserves a home that fits his style and physique. So when considering whether to purchase or build your next doggie dwelling, remember that one size doesn’t fit all,” she adds.

From the Jan. 17-23, 2007, issue

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