Welfare of dogs: the need for a suitable environment

Your dog needs a safe environment and, whether it lives inside or outside the house, it needs protection from dangers in the home.

Dangers in the home

Examples of hazards in the home include:

  • open windows and balconies in high buildings, which may be inadequately protected to prevent your dog from falling from them
  • household and garden chemicals
  • poisonous plants

Dogs are naturally inquisitive and a dog may put itself in danger if it is left to explore unsupervised.

Your dog needs a safe, comfortable place to rest, situated in a dry, draught-free area. Living in a cold or damp place can lead to unnecessary suffering. If your dog lives outside, it will need protection from adverse weather or other threats.

All dogs must be able to avoid things that frighten them and need a place to hide where they feel safe.

A dog is by nature unlikely to soil its living area and needs regular opportunities to use a toilet area, or it will become distressed. Some dogs may need access to a toilet area more often, for example:

  • very young
  • very old
  • dogs that are ill

Dogs are particularly vulnerable to heat stress which can quickly become serious and result in death. In hot weather they rapidly become distressed when enclosed in areas such as conservatories, cars and small kennels.

Some signs of heat stress include:

  • rapid heart rate
  • exaggerated panting
  • too much drooling
  • vomiting
  • dizziness and confusion
  • shaking
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness

Making a suitable environment 

You should:

  • provide your dog with a safe, clean environment
  • provide adequate protection from hazards
  • provide your dog with a comfortable, clean, dry, quiet, draught-free rest area
  • change your dog’s bedding regularly and make sure it's comfortable
  • provide your dog with somewhere it can go to avoid things that frighten it
  • provide your dog with access to a suitable place, away from its resting area, which it can use as a toilet area as needed
  • allow your dog, if it lives outside, to spend time with its owners and to be part of the family environment
  • make sure that any place you leave your dog is large enough at all times, a comfortable area with effective ventilation and temperature control

If your dog is kept in a kennel, or tethered, you should check it often and make sure it's not in danger or distressed. Dogs should not be kept tethered permanently or for long periods and it is recommended that they should be given the opportunity to run free.

Your dog must be able to move around comfortably and be able to avoid becoming too hot or too cold. Dogs showing signs of heat stress need immediate medical treatment, so contact your vet without delay.

When you transport your dog make sure it is comfortable and safe at all times, and do not leave your dog unattended in an unsafe environment, or for any period of time that is likely to cause it distress.

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