Like us, our pets are susceptible to cold weather, and it's important that we are prepared to care for them during the winter months. Whether your dog spends many hours outside each day or only goes outside for bathroom breaks and short walks, you need to know how to keep dogs warm in winter.
Some dogs get cold faster than others. Small breeds, senior pets and dogs with thin coats may get cold more quickly than young, large breeds with thick fur. It's your job to keep Fido safe in any situation. There are a few things you can do to ensure her safety during the coldest months of the year.
Most dogs enjoy wearing winter gear, but it's important to keep your pet's comfort and happiness in mind when selecting products for her to wear. You must be sure to measure your dog for clothing properly. For example, a dog coat that is too tight may restrict range of motion or cause chaffing and discomfort.
How to Keep Dogs Warm in Winter
Most pet owners wonder how cold is too cold for their dog to be outside. This is a common question, but the answers varies with the dog. The danger of cold weather varies based on a dog's:
- coat type
- overall health condition
- acclimation to cold weather
Age, coat type and health condition are pretty standard, and most pet owners take them into consideration. However, the dog's acclimation to cold weather is often overlooked. If your dog was born and raised in a region with cold winters, he's going to be more acclimated to it than a dog raised in a climate that is warm all year long.
If your dog isn't used to the cold, he's going to be more sensitive to it. As a general rule, anything below 40˚F is going to be too cold for small breeds, puppies, senior pets and dogs with little fur.
The following chart created by Petplan Health Insurance for Pets offers a guideline for telling when the temperature outside is too cold for your pooch:
How to Keep Dogs Warm in Winter
First, you need to know the signs of extreme cold in dogs. If you notice your pet shivering, exhibiting slower-than-normal movement or lack of movement (even when spoken to), holding up paws or feeling cold to the touch, you need to get him inside immediately.
You can dress your dog in a warm winter jacket and doggy boots if he needs them to keep warm. Providing your pet with an extra blanket on his bed or even a bed warmer is also a good way to keep him warm while inside your home.
Puppies, senior dogs and pups with little to no fur would likely benefit from warm weather gear. Dog coats, fleece jackets and boots will all keep Fido warm and dry during the winter.
When the weather is cold, it's also important to limit your dog's time outside. It's imperative that you ensure she stays within the boundaries of your yard when the temperatures dip. Leash walking or staying with your pooch at all times is highly recommended. If your dog were to get lost in the winter, he could become too cold or immobile before being found.
I briefly mentioned dog booties, but I know a lot of people may think they are silly. The truth is, protecting your dog's paws and nose are extremely important when the air is cold and dry. These parts of the body are not protected by fur, and winter clothes won't keep them covered.
Boots or paw wax are good options for protecting your pet's feet. You can also purchase balms and waxes to protect the canine nose. Not only is the ice and snow tough on your dog's paws, the nose and paws can also become cracked from exposure to cold, dry air.
Finally, when learning how to keep dogs warm in winter, it is more important than ever to keep your canine companion properly fed and hydrated. A malnourished or dehydrated dog could have trouble regulating their body temperature. As you can imagine, this can be especially detrimental during times of extreme cold.