During the winter, pet parents bundle themselves up and grab the extra blankets out of the closet to keep warm. However, when was the last time you thought about keeping your dog warm in the winter? You may think that a dog’s fur automatically shields them from the cold, but dogs can get cold, too! In fact, some dogs may even prefer a coat.
Dogs tolerate the cold differently, depending on factors like age, breed, and coat density. Even the most cold-tolerant breeds, though, like Huskies, need at least some level of protection from the cold. Here a few tips for keeping outdoor and indoor dogs warm in the winter:
Outdoor dogs need adequate shelter and bedding to ward off cold temperatures, and proper nutrition to maintain their energy. Doghouses for outdoor dogs should be insulated, weathertight, and raised off the ground with the door facing away from the wind. Good bedding consists of a clean, dry dog bed and thick wool blankets placed in a doughnut shape to maximize heat retention. Hay and straw also provide great insulation but need to be replaced when they become wet or dirty.
During the winter, your outdoor dog should eat small, frequent meals that are served at room temperature. Constant access to fresh, unfrozen water is necessary for proper hydration. Serve the food and water in plastic bowls so your dog’s tongue doesn’t get stuck when eating or drinking.
Bring your dog inside when the temperatures drop below freezing, and be sure to winterize your dog's paws.
Indoor dogs need warm bedding, too! Place some extra blankets on your dog’s bed and keep the bed in a non-drafty and carpeted area of your home, away from space heaters and fireplaces.
Limit your dog’s time outside during the winter. If you have a short-haired dog, outfit them with a doggy jacket or sweater for walks outside; the jacket or sweater should fit snugly from the neck to the base of the tail and cover the belly. Doggy booties provide good protection from snow and ice; if your dog doesn’t like booties, remember to wipe down your dog’s paws after walks to prevent ingestion of toxic road salt.
A well-groomed coat can help keep your dog warm during the winter. Brush your dog regularly.
A car can get as cold in the winter as it gets hot in the summer. Avoid taking your dog on car rides in the winter. If you do, though, do not leave your dog unattended in the car.
Dogs will let you know when they’re cold. For example, they will shiver or appear anxious. When spending time outside, if your dog slows down, refuses to follow commands, or curls up when lying down, bring them inside immediately—your dog is becoming hypothermic and needs to warm up.
Frostbite is another serious sign of coldness in dogs, but isn’t noticeable immediately. Pale or grey skin that turns hard and cold indicates frostbite. Call your veterinarian right away if your dog has signs of hypothermia or frostbite, and consider investing in a dog insurance policy to keep your pup protected.
Have more than one pet? Check out these tips for how to keep all of your pets warm this winter.