Winter Dog Care is a Must
It is amazing to me that some people think that dogs can be left outside in the cold winter months in the northeast without the minimum requirements of water (not a block of ice in a water bowl) and shelter. If the dog is going to be outside at mealtime, the food should be freshly prepared. A dog can't eat a frozen lump of kibble.
And maybe a nice coat. People would regularly tell me that our senior dog Bailey's coats were "cute". They were cute on him, but the reason he wore a fleece or a rain coat was because he needed it. I actually felt a bit uncomfortable when we first started putting coats on Bailey. I didn't want people to think that I am some crazed Paris Hilton wanna be who dresses up her dog like an accessory. But I got over that because Bailey's needs were more important than other people's impressions of me.
Dogs don't do well when they're cold, hungry and dehydrated. And senior dogs are especially vulnerable. Senior dogs' bodies don't regulate heat as well as younger dogs. Short coated dogs and small dogs, like seniors, need more protection than young fuzzy, well insulated dogs.
When it gets cold like it does in New England, dogs need protection. We don't have a dog house. Bailey walked, played and hung outside for awhile in the winter, and then we brought him inside to warm up. But a dog who is going to be left outside for any length of time in the cold and sometimes wet winter months needs shelter. Shelter means a cozy dog house. The dog house should be well built and small, just big enough for the dog to comfortably stand and lay down. If it's too big, it will be too cold. The dog house should be set up on supports to take it off the ground so that air circulates and the dog isn't lying on the cold ground. The bedding should be clean and dry. Clean, dry straw is probably best because blankets and rugs and those sorts of things get wetter than straw and can freeze up and be very cold. The dog house should also have a flap sort of door so that the cold winds don't blow in.
Better yet, bring your dog inside when it's too cold.