How you feed your dogs in winter is important if they are outside dogs. Most of our dogs are outside and are true working dogs. I consider them employees working security for the farm and account for them that way for business purposes. They are better treated than most employees; in addition to enjoying a superior cuisine, they get free health care, housing, acres of recreational space, a healthy social life, and internet access.
Not all dogs should be kept outdoors in winter in Ohio; they are just not adapted for it. Our outside dogs are made for harsh winter weather and in fact do better in the winter than the high heat of the summer months. In summer we feed meat right from the refrigerator to help cool them down. In winter we increase their rations by as much as 50% when the weather is particularly bad. Interestingly this is the same thing we do with our livestock, something a farmer once told me.
Even in the snow and bitter cold they hardly ever take shelter but they do need good food and enough of it to keep warm and healthy. In a natural diet they would eat fresh kill which would be warm. Since we feed raw meat we don’t really want to warm it up in the microwave as that would defeat the purpose so we mix hot rice with it to take the chill off. Some of you already mix rice with your food and that is fine and so the opportunity is there to give your dogs something warm to eat when it is freezing cold. It is a little extra work to cook the rice before each feeding so that it is still warm but there are some things I do to make it a little easier. I have discovered that if you use a crock pot to cook your rice, with some alterations in the amount of water to rice ratio and the different settings on the crock pot, you can start it in the morning and your rice will be ready at dinner time. We go a step further because we have more than a reasonable number of dogs and make enough rice so that there will be some for breakfast as well. We use a 12 quart crock pot (less than $20 at this writing) so there is enough for two feedings. We feed our dogs twice a day as I don’t believe they can get all that they need in just one meal. If you get up a lot at night like I do you can just turn your crock pot to warm some time during the night so that it is ready for breakfast.
Is this too much, more than they need? I don’t think so but I know those that would disagree with me and I say to them, then why have the dog. Why buy a dog only to put it in the backyard on a chain? OK, I’ll stop here as anything more would just be a rant and those people would never read this blog anyway.