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 whether outdoors or indoors, and a pet blanket may just do the trick to keep him 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 plays 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 going to be outside a lot during the winter, they should always have blankets available to them outside. This way, they are able to protect themselves from the cold. Moreover, in some temperatures, a blanket may not be enough 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, there is the risk of hypothermia. 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.
A good way to offer your dog plenty of warmth during the winter would be to set up an area with several cheap dog blankets away from any doors, windows, vents, and fans. 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 to keep this on the first floor.
Overweight dogs will be able to keep themselves warmer, whereas underweight dogs will become very cold very fast. If you are determining, 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, they 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 it is regularly cropped short, they need the extra warmth as well. Conversely, large dogs with thick coats typically are able to keep themselves warm. They will not need a blanket per say, but it would still be a good idea to have one available for them. 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, are able to 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.
Households that are typically colder or don’t run their heater often will need pet blankets for their dog. If you are cold in your home, your dog likely is too. Smaller dogs and dogs with any of the 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 simply have one available for them. Pet blankets are very cheap so 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 if they are cold, they will typically do what they can to warm up.
Pay attention for 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 off that. However, when a dog is cold, his ears are cold too 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 they need it 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 you 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 warmer to rest.
READ NEXT: Is It Too Cold to Leave Your Dog Outside?