Winter for humans means hot cocoa mugs and fluffy slippers. It is enough for most people to put on a wooly scarf and a thick sweater to keep themselves warm. Not to mention, the fireplace or central heating system goes a long way in keeping the house feeling warm and cozy.
But, what about your dog? As a pet parent, apart from all the fun that you and your four-legged friend may have in the snow, you need to get serious about keeping your pets warm.
If your dog has a longer coat with double or tripple layers, they’ll have an easier time keeping warm. Some breeds are bred for colder climates, like the Siberian Husky or Akita. But for smaller breeds or those with thinner coats, winter can be dangerous.
Even for those pups that seem made for the snow, if temperatures hit below zero degrees, your pets will likely suffer from the ill effects of such harsh weather without some form of shelter and bedding or a source of heat.
So, how do you keep a dog warm at night? There are many ways to make sure your dog is warm at night, including keeping them indoors, providing adequate bedding and blankets, keeping them away from drafts, providing a heated pad, and buying them jackets or sweaters. It is never recommended to keep your dog outside in the cold at night.
You will often find many pet guardians worrying about their companions in the winter season. So read on to understand a bit more about why it’s so important to keep your dogs warm in the winter and how to do it!
When Is It Too Cold For Your Dogs?
Many dog breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Saint Bernard, or Newfoundland can amazingly tolerate cold temperatures. These dogs have a thick, coarse, triple coat of fur to survive freezing weather. Most of these dogs have specially adapted paws that act like snowshoes so they can walk safely on snow and sleet.
These canines also have thick fur surrounding their ears, thick guard hairs that are water-resistant, and large muscle mass. All these adaptations help these dogs to cope well in temperatures as low as -76°F (-60°C). However, even with this natural parka and other helpful features, dogs such as those on sledding teams curl up closely for insulation against the cold and may even let snow accumilate around them for added protection, almost like an igloo.
And most dogs, whether small or large, don’t do well in the cold at all. With a single fur coat or even a double coat of short hair, dogs cannot withstand temperatures below 45°F. And, for pet guardians of puppies, disabled dogs, senior dogs, or small dog breeds, when the temperature outside feels at or below 32°F, you need to take extra care to get your doggos warmed up.
We have ro reiterate here that for this reason, it is never recommended to leave your dog outside in the cold at night. Even breeds that are bred for the cold should have some form of heated shelter and bedding available to them.
How To Tell Your Dog Is Cold
Most doggos love to take a romp outside, no matter the weather. And, it does get a little confusing to say whether your dog is jumping from the excitement of being out or jumping around to stay warm. Fortunately, for most first-time pet parents, when your pooch is cold, there will be other accompanying signs to determine if your furry friend is feeling the chill.
Signs Your Dog Is Cold:
- Shivering or shaking
- Whining or low-pitched barking
- Hunched with a tucked tail
- Frequently shifting weight from one paw to the other
- Lifting feet off the ground
- Anxiety or irritation
- Reluctance to go for a walk
- Tugging on the leash to go back indoors
- Seeking shelter to get off the ground
- Refusal to move
- Curling up tight
Your doggo is a social animal and loves going outside, but if the weather becomes too cold, the natural thing to do is take your pup inside and figure out ways to warm them up. How would you like being tied up and left out the cold?
You may also have to limit the time you spend out walking when the weather turns nippy. You can compensate for that by taking more frequent walks for shorter time durations and putting dog boots or sweaters on your pup.
How To Keep Your Dogs Warm Inside
Now that we’ve established that it’s always best to keep your dogs inside during winter nights to avoid them getting frost bite and hypothermia, let’s talk about keeping your dog warm inside the house.
We’re sure you crank your thermostat in the winer to keep the whole house warm and toaty. However, you may have to take extra precautions to make sure your pup is feeling just as comfy as you are.
1. Avoid Drafts
Even inside the house, there are always places that tend to get cold drafts, like the laundry room or the basement. You may have to change your fur baby’s regular sleeping spot if they are likely to get cold where they sleepstypically. You can also lay a blanket over your dog’s kennel if they sleep in one at night to keep cool air from getting in and provide extra insulation.
2. Appropriate Bedding
It helps to get a warm, cozy bed for your furry baby that it can easily snuggle into. A high-sided dog bed with a thick base is a good investment for the chilly weather and will also keep your dog’s joints nice and comfortable (this one is our favorite).
It helps to have a washable material on your doggo’s bed so that you can easily clean it up. And a thicker material such as velvet or fleece keeps your dog’s bed warmer for longer.
3. Extra Protection
Most pet parents claim that their canines seem to love the feel of fleece blankets. As fleece blankets are pretty warm, you can make double sure that your doggo is feeling cozy by adding a fleece blanket to your pet’s bed. Blankets don’t just serve the purpose of providing warmth; many puppies cuddle into blankets as a substitute for motherly protection as well.
4. Proper Placement Of The Bed
It would be best if you always made it a point to place your dog’s bed slightly above the ground to keep the cold from getting to your dog from below. You should also keep them out of the laundry area or away from the windows during the winter season.
5. Heated Snuggle Pads
It helps to add a heated snuggle pad under your dog’s bedding to make certain that your fur baby sleeps restfully through the night. Heated pads need only a few minutes in the microwave to get heated and stay warm for up to ten hours. Others are electric..These pads are scratch and chew-proof, so you need not worry that your pooch will rip it to shreds by morning.
6. Dog Jumper And vests
It may sound ridiculous, but dog jumpers, sweaters, and vests are available in all styles, colors, and sizes. You can even get sets of warmers, including caps and socks for the paws.
The best part of dog jumpers is that they are even available in different materials so that if your dog doesn’t like the feel of a particular cloth on their skin, you can always try out something else. They may not like wearing these items at first, but they’ll quickly get used to them over time.
7. Waterproof Jackets
As you must know as a pet parent, no amount of snow or rain can keep your pooch indoors for good, so you should invest in a waterproof jacket for those mandatory walks. Cold weather doesn’t only mean falling temperatures, it can also mean rain or strong winds, and a waterproof jacket with a fleece lining is the perfect way to go out for a walk without freezing your paws off.
8. Drying Coat
No, it isn’t a myth or a sales gimmick. Drying coats for dogs are the real thing. These coats have microfiber towel linings, which not only help your dog’s fur dry off quickly, but also keep your fur baby warm.
9. Boots For Dogs
There may be plenty of bystanders whoy find your dog wearing boots to be a funny sight. However, besides the ice and snow being dangeorus for your pet’s paw pads and possibly causing lesions or frostbite, people often use sodium, calcium chloride, or antifreeze to melt the ice around their houses and the areas close by. These chemicals cause a burning sensation on your pet’s paws.
Boots are a good idea for pets when going out for walks in the frosty weather. And, not only are they good for cold weather, but should be brought out in scorching temperatures as well to avoid your dog burning their paws on hot tar and cement.
How To Keep A Dog Warm At Night Outside?
So far, you know everything that you need to keep an eye out for when winter approaches. But, the tips you have are for dogs that live indoors or for dogs that go out for walks occasionally during the holiday season. When your dog lives outdoors and the winter season comes, you have to deal with a whole lot more than just some drafts coming in through the window.
Again, it is never recommended to keep your dog, or cat for that matter, outside in the winter. This causes cold-related deaths every year.
There are not a lot of dog breeds that can be housed outside in the extreme cold. Some dog breeds can withstand cold weather to some extent. Still, if you have limited space available in our house and must keep your dog outside, you need to take every precaution to ensure that your pup will be well protected from the harsh elements.
When you build a kennel outside for your furry friends outdoors, then there are many aspects that you need to keep in mind. Dog houses built outdoors must be adequately insulated. Insulation should be in place, not just in the way of hay or blankets surrounding the dog’s bed, but even in the walls of the structure.
Fiberglass insulation, polystyrene foam, or even expanding foam spray can help you to keep the kennel walls warm. It would help if you considered hiring a professional dog house builder to help build a safe place for your pooch, even in the cold season.
Then, it would be best to make sure that the dog house is raised at least 5-10 inches above the ground. You see, when the kennel is going to be on the ground, the cold will always permeate through the floor.
It would be best to consider weatherproofing the roof so that the snow, rain, or any wind would not come through tiny open spaces. Moreover, the dog house roof should be strong enough not to collapse due to the weight of the snow layer collecting on the top.
There should not be an open door or hole like you see in the cartoons either. Instead, it should have a flapping dog door that won’t let out any heat. The protective door will keep the cold winds from cooling the kennel. Furthermore, the ceiling shouldn’t be higher than 5-6 feet, as that will allow the heat to escape.
There should be a fleece-covered, high-sided dog bed inside that dog house to allow your pooch to get comfortable. And, there is an absolute need for internal heating inside the kennel. You can make use of several options – from digital heaters that have temperature adjustment controls or heated snuggle pads that you can place under your dog’s bedding through the night.
Additionally, keeping the floor well covered with hay or another kind of insulating bedding will go a long way in keeping the kennel warm. And fleece blankets for the dog’s bed will ensure that your fur baby can snuggle deep underneath if they are feeling the crispness of the weather. Also, you need to place heated dog bowls for water and food so that your doggo does not have to deal with frozen food or water.
The only way to make sure that your doggo is perfectly warm in its dog house is to check up on your pet frequently. Despite all the steps you may take to keep your canine feeling warm, it is best to bring your fur babies indoors if the temperature drops further. And, many pet parents feel that it is much more convenient and safer for your dog just to have them safe inside.
You see, just like humans, dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. Some of the most apparent symptoms of hypothermia are:
- Muscle stiffness
- Slow and shallow breathing
- Fixed and dilated pupils
- Stupor-like state
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of mental alertness
- Loss of consciousness
If you have to notice any of these symptoms in your pet companions, then it’s time to quickly bring your dog indoors, wrap it up in a warm blanket and call the vet or head to one immediately. Frostbite and hypothermia can prove fatal for even the most rugged of dogs.
Adopting a pet is the best way to brighten up your life. But, when you adopt a pet, then you invariably become responsible for their well-being. Everything from your fur babies’ diet, exercise, and daily upkeep to their vet visits and hygiene fall squarely on your shoulders.
Just as you prepare for the upcoming cold winter months to stay warm and protected from the harsh winter elements, you also need to start preparing for your pooches’ health and comfort too.