You might think since your pup comes with his own permanent fur coat that he's good to go when it comes to cold weather. Well, while it's true a dog's coat offers some protection from the chill in the air, not all breeds have thick, toasty coats. Plus, even dogs more suited for the cold, like Samoyeds and various large breeds, shouldn't be exposed to frigid temps for extended periods without proper protection.
If your pooch needs a little extra help staying warm in the winter, there are several ways you can help him. Of course, the most obvious is to let him stay indoors when the weather gets icy, but you still need to know how to keep him warm when he is on his outdoor adventures.
Five Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm in Winter
When the weather gets chilly, one of the best ways to keep your pup warm is to limit his exposure to the elements. If the temperature drops below 20-degrees F, it’s best to stay inside. For some breeds, even below 45 degrees is pushing it. When you do go outside with your pup, keep your outdoor sessions short, taking frequent breaks to go inside and warm up a bit.
If your pooch spends a lot of time outside, then it’s imperative that you ensure he can keep warm and escape the cold whenever he needs to. Here are a few ways to keep your canine companion comfy and cozy:
Blankets are an oldie, but a goodie when it comes to keeping your dog warm in winter, but not all blankets are created equal. Opt for thick blankets that will help pack in warmth. Wool blankets are great for this, but you don’t have to spend oodles and oodles on designer items. Think outside the box! If you have any wool sweaters that you plan to toss, let your pup use them as blankets. Also, make sure your pup has access to enough blankets so that he can cover himself thoroughly (if he’s so inclined), and he can paw and claw at them to make the perfect sleeping spot.
There are some heated blankets for dogs. However, these are usually only for indoor use, and you should always monitor your pup when he is using one.
A Heated Dog House
If you want to give your pup the ultimate warmth, then how about a heated dog house? While a well-made, insulated dog house is always a great idea for outdoor pups, if your dog spends a lot of time outside in the winter, then a heater could be a great solution for him. You can purchase dog house heaters at pet stores or online, and it’s usually a pretty simple DIY project to install the heater in your pooch’s palace. Note: These heaters are specially designed products for dog houses. Don’t ever put a space heater in your pup’s dog house. This can pose all sorts of potential dangers, especially if your dog’s water bowl is right next to it! Also, make sure your dog has easy access to get in and out of her house, so she can step outside if it gets too hot.
A Raised Bed Area
Even with lots of blankets, if your pup is on the ground, this can add to the cold conditions. The ground can pull more heat from your pup’s body, making him extra chilly. Provide your dog with a raised surface that he can use as a bed and put the blankets on top of it. You don’t have to get anything special or expensive; even an old wooden palette will do! The idea is to just get your pup off of the ground, so you don’t need to build anything extravagant (unless you want to).
If your pup is willing, a doggy jacket or coat can be a great way to keep him warm when he’s playing and running around outside. If you decide to get your pooch a coat, make sure it fits him well, and he still has his full range of motion. You should measure your pup’s length from the base of his neck to the base of his tail, then compare the number to the size chart that accompanies the jacket to get an accurate fit. Many doggy jackets have access points on the back so you can easily snap on a leash and get going on your winter hike without having to remove the coat.
Pay Attention to Grooming
If your pup has a nice, thick coat that would typically provide him with some natural warmth, keep this in mind during your grooming sessions. Don’t clip your pal too close, and this is definitely not the best time for a shave, so keep up with regular brushing to ensure your dog’s coat stays healthy and mat-free.
What Dog Breeds Feel the Cold the Most?
While there are many breeds, like the Siberian Husky and the St. Bernard, that are well-acclimated to cold weather, there are also many breeds who don’t do so well in the cold. Slim-bodied breeds like Greyhounds and Whippets can't handle the cold very well, nor can most smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Shih Tzu. However, this doesn’t mean that all large breeds can withstand the winter weather.
For example, Great Danes aren’t big fans of winter. Other breeds like the French Bulldog, Pug, and Boxers don’t fare well in the cold due to their very short coats or lack thereof, such as in the case of the hairless Chinese Crested.
Besides specific breeds, you also need to take extra caution with puppies, older dogs, and any dogs with particular health concerns. Certain issues can make dogs more susceptible to cold weather, such as arthritis or diabetes. Dogs that suffer from these types of conditions cannot regulate their body temperature effectively. Therefore, they need to take extra precautions when in the cold.
What Happens If a Dog Gets Too Cold?
If your dog gets too cold, it’s not only unpleasant for him, but it can also pose some serious health risks. The average temperature for a dog is 101 degrees. If your dog’s temperature drops to below 100 degrees, then he runs the risk of developing hypothermia. When this happens, it’s essential to raise his body heat as soon as possible with blankets and warm towels.
If you can’t get his temperature to come up, your pup can become lethargic and have trouble breathing. This could even lead to more severe issues like heart failure or worse. In this situation, you need to get your dog to the vet immediately.
You and your pup can have lots of fun together in the winter; just make sure he’s warm and well-protected from the cold. When the weather conditions get really extreme, the best thing to do for your pooch is to bring him inside. Make sure to check out the rest of our blog for even more helpful tips on how to take care of your pets! You’ll find lots of information about products, activities, health, and more, so you can be a well-informed pet parent!