How to Keep a Dog Warm in Winter: Basic and Advanced Tips

Extreme weather conditions can be dangerous both for humans and animals. Dogs need to spend time outside every day whatever the weather is, so safety questions are crucial for them. In this article, I will explain how frost affects pets, which breed is vulnerable, and how to keep a dog warm in winter.

How to Keep Dog Warm in Winter: Quick Guide

  1. Shorten the time your dog spends outside.
  2. Keep the dog kennel warm in winter. Make sure its house doesn’t let cold air inside and upgrade it if necessary.
  3. Select a few dog coats and wear one of them before going on the walk. Change it if it gets wet from snow.
  4. Keep dog paws warm in winter by wearing booties.

Full Guide on Dog Safety in Winter

Every breed has a number of specific features, and every dog is unique. Before making any decision concerning animal safety, I strongly recommend consulting a trustworthy vet. However, there are general tips that can be applied to most individuals.

Shpitz get cold

The dangers of cold weather for dogs

Depending on the breed and age, cold weather affects dogs differently. Northern kinds are bred in such conditions and need minimal care, while others might gain serious health issues.

  • Hypothermia is a state in which body temperature gets so low that it leads to muscle stiffening, slow breathing, and a weak heartbeat. The most apparent symptoms are unusual barking or whining, low mobility, and shivering. Dogs tend to look for a warmer and safer place if they are too cold, and anxiety is the other signal of hypothermia.
  • Frostbite is the most severe consequence of hypothermia. This means the blood flow is disrupted, so more blood flows to the vital organs, and the paws get even colder. A change of skin color is a clear sign of frostbite: It gets gray, blue, or pale. The damaged area of the skin is also hurtful to touch and swelling.
  • Overcooling worsened health issues a dog already has, especially diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances.

How do you know when it is too cold for your dog?

No one but a vet can give proper recommendations about your dog’s safety, including hypothermia prevention. Apart from specific features every breed has, here are some basic things to consider to know how vulnerable your dog is.

  • The length of hair affects how soon cold air reaches the skin if the dog can warm it.
  • Short-legged dogs get cold faster, even long-haired ones, since they are closer to the cold ground.
  • Young and healthy dogs are more tolerant to frost than old ones or those who have health issues.

To say if your pet is cold, you need to know its ordinary habits. Unusual behavior is a clear sign of discomfort. Here are the most common examples:

  • whining or barking and eye contact;
  • holding paws up, low mobility, shivering;
  • anxious and fearful behavior, looking for a safe and warm place.

Sad cold poppy

How to keep your dog warm in winter outside?

Cold weather is not a reason to deprive your dog of walking. If your pet is vulnerable to low temperatures, I strongly recommend that you follow the tips I name below.
Dress your dog. You can find a wide variety of dog coats and select a suitable one to compensate for the lack of fur. You will need at least two pieces of clothing to change them when one gets wet from the snow. A humid coat can harm your dog even more than frost itself.
Protect the paws. Animals get cold not only because of the air but also by contact with the cold ground. Find suitable booties: They will protect your dog from hypothermia and injuries caused by sharp pieces of ice.
Spend less time outside. Learn which temperature is safe for the breed your dog belongs to and avoid long walks if the grade is below the allowed level.
How to keep a dog house warm in winter?
It is a common misconception that furry animals easily survive through winter. When the temperature falls under 20 F, many breeds risk gaining various diseases or even death. Therefore, it is recommended to let your pets indoors if it gets too cold, especially small dogs, old, or weak ones. If letting your dog live in the house is impossible, prepare its house for the upcoming frost.

  • Check for the smallest cracks and seal them.
  • Insulate the dog house with polystyrene foam or fiberglass, and make sure your pet is unable to contact these materials directly. You can also use reflexive foil.
  • Elevate the floor level and lay a carpet but make sure it is dry. Protect the entrance from the wind.
  • Consider electric floor heating pads or wall-mounted pet heaters, but hide them properly so that your dog can’t reach and gnaw them.

Dog with winter jacket

Other important winter safety tips for your dog

Hypothermia is not the only problem a dog owner might face during winter. There are several side issues that concern poisoning, shedding, or weight.

  • Dogs collect snow and ice on their fur, which might contain deicers and antifreeze that are used on walkways during winter. As soon as you return home, wash or wipe the fur so that your pet doesn’t swallow these chemicals.
  • When the snow covers the ground, it dulls scents that help dogs to navigate and find their way home. Collars with contact information and chips are important at any time of the year, but in winter, the risk of losing your pet is higher.
  • In the cold season, animals tend to gain some weight. However, you should consider shortening the time your dog spends outside and lower mobility. Every owner should pay attention to their pet’s diet to prevent health issues.

Running happy dog

FAQ on How to Keep Small Dog Warm in Winter

To clarify some practical aspects, here are the most common questions explained. They are concerned with a proper way of setting up a dog house and additional methods of keeping it warm.

What is the best way to keep my dog warm in the winter?

Learn your dog’s habits and observe if its behavior changes outdoors. If you see it feels uncomfortable, shorten the time of walk and protect it with clothes and boots. If your pet lives outdoors, insulate the dog house, lift the floor level, and consider heating devices.

How can I keep my dog warm without a heater?

To keep a dog house warm, make sure it is located in a protected place without draughts and its walls, floor, and roof are thick enough. Seal cracks, lift the level of the floor, and insulate walls and roof. Finally, close the entrance.

Do dogs need blankets in winter?

Blankets can make a dog house warmer, but they bring little use if the house has cracks, thin walls, or no floor. Electric blankets are not recommended for animals since direct contact with heating devices can be harmful to pets.

Best Way to Keep Dog Warm in Winter

Before making any decisions about your pet’s health and safety, learn its breed’s features and consult a vet. Know which temperature is uncomfortable for your pet, and wear a dog coat and booties to compensate for short hair. You can also shorten the time the dog spends outdoors. If your pet lives in a dog house, make sure it protects the animal from cold air with thick walls and lifted floor level. To ensure comfort, equip it with heating devices but always remember: Safety is first.

What is the most important for a dog’s safety in the winter? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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