If you are using hay as bedding for your dog, chances are you doing it because you love your dog and want to keep it warm and comfortable. There are many advantages to using hay as dog bedding for an outdoor kennel. For example, hay is a relative inexpensive and environmentally conscious material to use for bedding.
Unfortunately, many dog owners are unaware that the quality of the hay you use for bedding can significantly impact your furry friend. In fact, if you purchase low quality hay you may be exposing your dog to health hazards.
Low quality hay is to be avoided at all costs when it comes to do bedding. That is because low quality hay can be dusty, moldy and full of allergens. Breathing moldy hay can lead to a variety of allergic reactions and can cause other symptoms in dogs, including breathing difficulties, coughing, decreased appetite, lethargy, nosebleeds, sneezing and wheezing.
Moldy hay occurs when hay is cut too early or is baled while still moist. It also can occur if hay is stored in a damp environment. Detecting moldy hay is relatively simple. Moldy hay bales will appear discolored and will be dusty. In fact, moldy hay is sometimes mistaken as dusty hay because mold spores look like dust.
Moldy hay is especially dangerous to dogs if they like to snuggle their faces into it when they sleep. It also is important that your dog does not eat hay bedding as it can cause digestive problems even if it is fresh, high quality hay.
Another issue with hay for dog bedding is that in the winter, dogs will track snow and moisture in their kennel or doghouse and this can cause mold to develop even if the hay was initially high quality. Therefore, make sure to change hay bedding every week so that it is always fresh.
While you need to be careful with hay as dog bedding, it can be a good choice in many cases. Dogs that live outdoors in cold weather will benefit from the high level of insulation and moisture-resistance that hay provides. In fact, there is nothing better for outdoor dogs than a layer of fresh, clean hay from grasses such as big bluestem, Indian grass, smooth brome and Timothy. This type of hay also will provide a nice layer of cushion to keep dogs comfortable. You might want to consider adding a layer of wood chips or shavings underneath the hay to provide some drainage if a small amount of moisture does come into contact with the hay.