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Q: Building a heated outdoor dog run ( No Answer,   9 Comments )
Subject: Building a heated outdoor dog run
Category: Family and Home > Pets
Asked by: threadshack-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 20 Oct 2006 23:12 PDT
Expires: 19 Nov 2006 22:12 PST
Question ID: 775524
I'm looking for help in designing a heated run for my elderly dog.
Betsy is a Corgi / Spaniel cross (she has a thick coat) with hip
displasia and spinal arthritis. She still has a lot of good years left
in her, and I want to keep my faithful companion comfortable. She has
been an indoor dog all her life, but is now having bladder control
problems. A good outdoor run with a heated doghouse seems to be the
answer, but I'm not sure how to heat it safely and effectively. I'm
prepared to pour a concrete pad with a steel or wood fence, and build
her a nice dog house to go into it. It looks like I can put a heat
lamp in the dog house, plus a heated pad in her bed, but is this
enough to keep her as warm as she would be in the house? Is that safe?
Should I also run wires through the concrete to keep it nice and dry?
And if yes, how is this done safely? I have a nice shady and sheltered
location in mind to build this run that would allow her access via a
doggie door into the house when we chose. Just not sure what the best
heating solution is for our cold and damp climate.
-Peggy on Gabriola Island, BC, Canada

Clarification of Question by threadshack-ga on 21 Oct 2006 13:44 PDT
Thanks for your comments - yes, the point about isolating her from her
humans is an issue that I take quite seriously. I don't want to be
away from her any more than I'm sure she wants to be away from us. I
should have been more clear; Betsy will still be very much involved in
our lives, and coming inside during the day is still likely to be the
case about 70% of the time. But at night, I can't allow my house to be
slowly destroyed by ruining my floors, etc.
No, she wouldn't use a catbox - I can just see the look on her face if
I even suggested it! Judging by how she has reacted to having a
bandage once on her little foot, I can imagine that diapers would be a
disaster. (If she was less fussy, this might have worked.) The "cat
flap" to a pen area is exactly what I'm suggesting, but she will also
need to sleep out there.
I see the pen as a compromise: by giving her a chance to "be good". I
can't punish her for the accidents, as they are NOT about her being
"bad". This will preserve our relationship and make her remaining
years happy ones. She is 14 now, and still in excellent health. (Our
vet congratulated us on how healthy she is, as he's never seen a
14-year old with the bloodwork of a 5-year old. I'm sure it's her
diet, as I often cook for her especially.)
Thanks for the point about infra-red - this is the kind of safety
issue I'm nervous about. :o)
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: probonopublico-ga on 20 Oct 2006 23:22 PDT
Hi Peggy

My worry is would Betsy like living outside - effectively cut off from
humans - after having enjoyed all the facilities of being indoors?

I note that she would have access via a doggie door into the house
'when we chose' but, when you didn't choose ...

Maybe, she would display her displeasure by barking, etc.?

How old is Betsy?

Please remember ... that you can't teach old dogs new tricks (allegedly).

Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: stanmartin1952-ga on 20 Oct 2006 23:55 PDT
Could you use a cat litter box with clumping litter in the house? Doggie diapers?
If you use a heated doghouse (with bladder problems, an infrared
heater would be safer than a heating pad) would you still need a
heated dog run?
Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: frde-ga on 21 Oct 2006 05:19 PDT
Personally I would put in a dog flap, similar to a cat flap
- and wire an area of garden as her outdoor pen and toilet

As Probo said, isolating her will traumatize her.

If she has become totally incontinent then euthenasia would be kinder.
Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: tlspiegel-ga on 21 Oct 2006 09:34 PDT
The real problem is how will Betsy adjust to being an outdoor dog
after being with her companion all her life.  This article may be
helpful to you.  Please re-consider.
Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: probonopublico-ga on 22 Oct 2006 00:01 PDT
Hi Peggy

Obviously the continual fouling of your house is unacceptable but ...

Have you tried eliminating her traces chemically after she has forgotten herself?

Otherwise, one mistake can easily lead to another and another.

There is some stuff here in the UK that is recommended by dog trainers
to eliminate such smells. Highly recommended!

Ask at your pet store.

It's worth a try.

All the Best

Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: neilzero-ga on 22 Oct 2006 10:30 PDT
If you decide on warmed concrete think low voltage such as 6 volts.
Find some cheap steel wire such as the fine wire as used for
identifying tags. 1/2 milimeter perhaps. It will tend to tangle as you
unroll it, so use your fingers to reverse the curl at 10 to 20
centimeter intervals. The ripple may be helpful, but you need it
straight on the average to avoid tangling. Pour most of the cement
then poke the wire far enough into the surface, for it to stay in
place. Lay several lengthwise strands up and back, so the the wire
does not touch. Leave some exposed wire at both ends, so you can
bypass any lengths which fail perhaps a year or two later. Then pour
about one centimeter of cement on top.
The current will need to travel the whole length of all the strands,
so it may not produce much heat. On cold nights, You can increase the
voltage to 12 or perhaps 18, 24, 30, 36, 42 or 48 volts. Use deep
cycle batteries.
Since you are on an island, it may often be windy, so a small windmill
may be an ecconomical way to keep the batteries charged. After a year
or two, a break in the wire is likely. Substitute a temporary copper
wire to short out the strands one at a time until you find the bad
strand or strands. As little as 1.5 volt is enough for this test. The
voltage will drop some when the bad (open) strand is bypassed.
Alternately you can use an ohm meter or continuity tester to find the
bad strand. Also the exposed wire at the ends may feel warm to the
touch when continuity is restored. Electric shock hazzard is slight at
48 volts and negligible at lower voltage.
The batteries can also provide some emergency power for the family, if
the local electric utility fails.   Neil
Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: threadshack-ga on 22 Oct 2006 12:07 PDT
Hi Neil - this is exactly the kind of suggestion I was hoping for.
Thanks ever so much!! Your suggestion about the windmill is one we
have considered and we will likely do this.
Good vibes your way...
Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: crxvfr-ga on 15 Nov 2006 09:41 PST
I have arthritis in my hips and spine. :) It seems to me a warm
concrete pad to lie on (or put a bed on) would be the best therapeutic
option but replacing a defective electrically heated concrete pad
seems like a major project if it stopped working. The pad would be
smallish, not like a driveway and it wouldn't have a heavy load like a
concrete driveway. Perhaps it would be a long long time before it
stopped working.

Where do you live and what is the winter climate like? Will a heated
concrete pad produce just enough heat to keep your dog from freezing
or warm enough to be slightly therapeutic? Take a look at brooder
lights, they are infra-red heat lamps used by farmers to heat
hen-houses. I use one to heat a small area for my cats. I also use
them to keep my plumbing from freezing in the wintertime. I've found
them for around $3-$4 for 150 watts, $9-$10 for larger sizes depending
on where you go and whats available.

One of the problems I've encountered? ...a heated outside shelter
attracts various varmints and insects seeking heat when the
temperature begins to drop.
Subject: Re: Building a heated outdoor dog run
From: threadshack-ga on 22 Nov 2006 19:59 PST
I've checked into the type of lamps used to heat hen houses, and it
looks like those are the way to go, rather than a heated pad in her
bed that's likely to short out with moisture. There are several types
on eBay, and one available from the UK that gives off heat but no
light, so as not to keep her awake at night.

Nope - the concrete is only being heated to avoid it becoming wet and
slimy, not to heat her or the house up. It's very wet here, but not
really below freezing for more than a handful of nights each year. At
least I'd know that the concrete wouldn't have ice on it when this did

Attracting pests is a serous concern, and I've not yet found a way to
make that happen. I've also decided to make the roof of the doghouse
lift off so that I can vac it out thoroughly every few days,
preventing any pests that did make it in from making a permanent home.

Any developments and I'll post the solutions I discover, hopefully
also including photos.
Thanks for your continued suggestions!

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