Don’t let your dog’s fur fool you. If you've been looking at your dog shivering and wondering, do dogs need blankets in winter, the answer is most likely yes.
Dogs can get cold outdoors or indoors, and a pet blanket may do the trick to keep them warm.
When winter temperatures get really low, depending on certain factors, some dogs absolutely need a dog blanket, and other dogs can go without it.
It all depends on where you live, the type of dog you have, and your home’s heating conditions.
Your dog’s health, weight, and age also play a huge factor in determining if they need a blanket or not.
So how do you know whether do dogs need blankets in winter or not?
ALSO READ: 5 Best Dog Coats for Dogs in Winter Cold
Do Dogs Need Blankets In Winter?
Dog blankets for winter to keep your pet warm
If your dog is outside a lot during the winter, they should always have blankets available outside.
This way, they can protect themselves from the cold. Moreover, a blanket may not be enough in some temperatures, and you may need to get a dog house with a heater to provide proper shelter.
Keep in mind. It is recommended to avoid leaving your dog outside for long periods of time during harsh winters.
If you do have to keep your dog outside during the cold weather, you absolutely should invest in an insulated dog house (with plenty of blankets inside) and maybe install a dog house heater, too, so your pooch has somewhere to hide.
If you live somewhere, that doesn’t get very cold. It isn’t too big of an issue.
However, if you live somewhere where it’s regularly cold or snows, hypothermia is a risk. Hypothermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature drops below a certain degree, typically when it falls below 99-95 F.
Hypothermia can lead to many complications and even be fatal to dogs.
Fur is usually not enough for most dogs
Many people think that because a dog has a layer of fur protecting them, they don’t need a blanket during the winter.
But do dogs need blankets in winter even if they have thick coats? Most likely, yes, they do, and veterinarians advise pet owners to provide extra warmth through clothes, heating, or blankets.
Especially smaller dogs, regardless of coat thickness, will have a harder time keeping themselves warm. If you feel cold, your dog is likely to be cold as well.
If you can’t stand being outside, even with a coat or gloves on, your dog won’t be able to stand being outside either.
Older dogs have a weaker immune system and are also more sensitive to cold weather, especially if it's an arthritic dog.
If they're staying outside, a dog blanket is a must. Keep in mind that hard surfaces, such as hardwood, tile, linoleum, and other uncarpeted floors, are colder and especially uncomfortable for older dogs, particularly ones with joint problems.
It matters what type of flooring you have at home.
If you have a carpeted area, set it up there. If not, put enough blankets down to keep your dog at least three inches from the floor.
Make sure this is somewhere that is fully accessible for your dog. For example, many older dogs struggle with climbing stairs, so it would be ideal for keeping this on the first floor.
Overweight dogs will keep themselves warmer, whereas underweight dogs will become very cold very fast.
If you determine, do dogs need blankets in winter, look at the dog's weight and factor that into your decision.
Also, keep in mind any health issues your dog might have.
Unless your dog is in absolutely perfect health, it may be more susceptible to cold weather and related health problems.
Dogs with thin, short hair will need extra warmth during the winter months. If your dog has thicker hair but is regularly cropped short, they need the extra warmth as well.
Conversely, large dogs with thick coats typically can keep themselves warm. They will not need a blanket per se, but it would still be a good idea to have one available for them.
Please don’t force your dog into warmth, for example, forcing them to wear a heavy dog sweater, as it can actually lead to overheating.
Some dog breeds, such as Akitas, Shepherds, and Malamutes, can withstand cold weather all on their own.
RELATED: Cold Weather Preparation for Dogs
Cold homes equal cold dogs
Pet owners may think that if the dog is indoors, then a blanket isn't needed, but this really depends on your home’s heating conditions.
People who run their heater often and keep their home consistently warm don’t have to worry as much about ensuring their dog has a blanket.
Again, it comes down to this: if you feel cold without extra layers, then your dog may be too.
Smaller dogs and dogs with any special conditions listed above will especially need a blanket in cold homes. They might be just as cold inside as they would be outside.
The best way to know if your dog needs a blanket or not is to have one available for them. Pet blankets are very cheap, so that you can provide several.
This gives your dog the option to go to it if they need it. Dogs act on their instincts and needs, so they will typically do what they can to warm up if they are cold.
Pay attention to signs that your dog is cold, such as excessive shivering, and help them warm up yourself if you notice this.
Checking your dog’s ear is another way to see if they are cold. Fur can feel warm at all times, so it might be hard to judge based on that.
However, when a dog is cold, his ears are cold to the touch as well.
If you aren’t sure if your dog needs a blanket or not, ask your veterinarian for advice. You could play it safe and have a blanket available somewhere for your dog.
This ensures your dog will have the additional warmth if needed but doesn’t run the risk of overheating.
If your dog is displaying any signs of being cold, take steps to warm them up. Also, if you keep your dog outside and notice any signs that they are too cold, bring them inside to warm up.
When you do take them back outside, make sure they have somewhere warm to rest.
Common Questions about Keeping Your Dog Warm in the Winter
Dog owners are responsible for keeping their pooches warm, no matter the time of the year.
From blankets to winter, here are answers to some of the most common questions about keeping your dog's bed snugly in the cold.
Should I Cover My Dog with a Blanket at Night?
If it is cold or your dog is small, then yes, you should cover him up at night. Adding a blanket to his dog bed will help keep him warm.
It will also make him more comfortable. Your dog will especially appreciate the extra blanket during cold temperatures.
Remember, if your dog gets too warm, he can slip out from under the blanket.
Do Dogs Like to Be Under Blankets?
Yes! Many dogs like to be under blankets. This seems to be an instinct to help them stay warm. Experts say that laying under a blanket is similar to burrowing under them, and your dog may love to do either.
Remember that dogs like to stay warm while sleeping, especially in colder weather. For proof of this, consider that puppies sleep in piles.
Or consider that as pack animals, even adult dogs love sleeping in piles.
Of course, there are always exceptions. While most canines love blankets, not all dogs will.
Please pay attention to his behavior the first time your dog spends an extended time under a blanket. You should be able to tell whether he likes it easily.
How Is Cold Too Cold for Dogs?
The answer to how cold is too cold depends on the dog. Small dogs tend to get colder much more easily. Then, there are some breeds, like huskies, that love the cold.
As a general rule of thumb, your dog will start getting cold at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this point, he may feel uncomfortable and could use some extra protection. If the temperature reaches 32 degrees, then you definitely want to bundle up small dogs.
It would help if you also gave senior dogs, puppies, and any breed with thin hair a blanket or coat in this weather.
No matter the breed, remember to protect your dog's paws in the cold too. Cold sidewalks can be bad for his paws. The salt used on ice can also be highly irritating.
How Is Cold Too Cold for a Dog to Sleep Inside?
It doesn't have to reach bitter cold temperatures for your dog to be too cold.
At about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, your dog's body may start to feel too cold to sleep comfortably, even when he is inside.
Keep your house warmer than this, and consider giving your pup a blanket to help him keep warm.
Do Dogs Need Blankets?
It is a common misconception that between body heat and fur, dogs are fine in the winter. In reality, these can only do so much.
Your dog will still need blankets when the temperatures drop, even with his fur.
Some dogs may appreciate the extra warmth of electric blankets. However, most will be fine with an extra blanket on their pet beds.
Use common sense when deciding whether to give your dog a blanket on cold nights. You should always be cautious with electric blankets, especially if your dog likes to chew things.
Do Dogs Like Being Kissed?
To humans, hugs and kisses are signs of affection. But dogs don't understand what we mean when we do so.
Your dog may like being kissed, as he may realize that it means you love him.
But you shouldn't expect him to. Pay attention to how your dog or puppy reacts, and try not to kiss him as much if it seems to make him uncomfortable.
Will a Dog Suffocate UnderCovers?
Before giving your dog an extra layer of blankets, you may be wondering if he can suffocate. It is doubtful that your dog would suffocate under the covers.
The only time this is a concern is if your dog is tiny and the blankets are heavy, or you could roll over onto them.
This would also be a potential concern with puppies, especially small or weak ones that can't get out of the blankets by themselves.
The thing to remember is that your dog can get out from under the blankets if he tries. Because of this, you don't have to worry about him accidentally suffocating.
So, feel free to give your dog a blanket or two to stay comfortable in the colder months of the year.