A cold Winter with Farm Cats and Dogs Means. . ."If You are Cold..."

Each winter, the posts begin about bringing all cats and dogs indoors during the cold days ahead. The farmer who leaves his working dog or even barn cat outside "working" is demonized. 

Before I go further, this isn’t about true neglect and abuse of pets or livestock where they are chained, left without a true way to access what they need and so forth. Those cases happen often and should be reported.

But now and again, working dogs are called in that actually are quite happy and cared for, and that is what I’m speaking to here.

Just as goats, sheep, horses and cattle can humanely and safely be outside, working dogs and cats (barn mousers) can, and really sometimes have it easier given their ability to get into warmer spots with coats that are even more winter ready than any goat I've seen.

 Are farmers doing the cows and horses harm by not bringing them inside, as well?

Of course not.

The statement: "If You are Cold, THEY ARE Cold” doesn’t apply to all.

If you have a pet that genetically isn't a type kept outside at all in the past decades - i.e. small breeds like Chihuahuas, breeds genetically not suited to harsh winter based on their historical genetic background or those disadvantages in some way (age, illness), I believe they thrive best inside with temperatures that are mild/moderate when weather is A-typical for what they are genetically prepared to live through.

You should never have a dog tied out in any weather and leave them to try to survive. Plastic dog houses, a little hay, chains, frozen water or little square chainlink kennels – that isn’t humane, be it very cold or sweltering hot.  

But for many breeds of dogs - the genetics ARE there for outdoor living when they are well nourished and given solid options for shelter, just like it is there for goats, cattle, poultry, pigs and more. . .

I have to assume many people are just truly unaware.

If one’s livestock can be in run in shed, barn or out on pasture (which is perfectly acceptable with wind breaks, shelter to stay dry and water/food), a double coated working Pyrenees that comes from generations (as many do) of working dogs who has been growing a coat for winter through the seasonal changes should have no need to be brought in when his flock is outside. The flock is one he protects.

Obviously, do not take an inside dog of any breed, even a Livestock Guard Dog, and put them out in the middle of winter. You would have problems if you brought goats up from Florida in December and threw them out in the winters of the north, too. You also be off track if you take a dog who grew a coat for winter through outdoor living in the fall and you bring him into a house that 75 degrees.

Common sense, folks. 

DON'T DO those things. . .

If a healthy animal's genetic package works with the outdoors and the animal is acclimatized - you are not doing them a disservice by providing having them outside, BUT know your breeds and know if they are acclimatized.

My Pyrs, over the years, have had three options for shelter - a covered porch where it is dry with dog beds, a wooden and off ground dog house without wind access. . . and a barn full of hay. . .

And just where do I often find these dogs in the worst of weather? Laying in the driveway and rolling around playing with the other farm dogs. . .because that is WHAT dogs that have acclimatized coats, breeding and so forth think of cold weather. . .

My indoor/outdoor cat prefers to head outside on the farm at night, even in harsh winter. She lets me know when she wants in and out.

Where were the horses in snow, rain and wind? Well, not in the barn with hay - they are found poking around on the hillside in the wind. . .

Your acclimated farming dogs, just like your livestock, should have access to windbreaks, shelter, bedding, plenty of food and unfrozen water -

They will be fine.

(Repeating: this isn’t about true neglect and abuse of pets or livestock where they are chained and/or left/kept without a true way to access what they need. Those cases happen often and should be reported, Always.)