How to Keep Dogs Warm in the Winter

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Your dog’s cold tolerance will differ based on breed and other factors, but frigid temperatures pose hypothermia and frostbite risks for all dogs with too much exposure. 

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of your adventures, however. With the right gear and safety measures, you can keep your dog warm all winter long.

5 tips to keep your dog warm in winter

1.   Know Your Dog’s Limits

Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash

All dogs are different, and their tolerance for cold temperatures can be different as well. Your dog’s specific limits will depend on its breed, fur type, age, and health conditions.

Dogs with fluffy, dense coats, for example, like Siberian Huskies can handle colder temperatures for longer than skinny, short-haired dogs like Chihuahuas or whippets. A younger, more active dog can also handle the cold better than a senior dog, no matter the breed.

A few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • When the temperatures drop below freezing, smaller, older, or thin-coated dogs should come inside
  • When the temperatures drop below 20℉ (-7℃), most dogs will struggle outside in the cold, and you should watch closely for signs of frostbite and hypothermia

2.   Keep Your Dog’s Paws Dry

drying dogs paws
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Your dog’s paws are bound to get wet in the snow and ice, making them feel colder quicker. Not only that, but your dog’s paws are especially vulnerable to frostbite in freezing temperatures.

Always dry your dog’s paws off immediately when you get home from a walk. This will help to warm up your pup, and it also cleans off any salt or deicing chemical that may have collected only our dog’s feet. These chemicals are toxic if your dog ingests them, and they can also cause burn your dog’s paw pads.

To keep your dog’s paws safe and warm from the cold, moisture, and harmful chemicals, fit your dog with booties.

If your dog has trouble with boots, applying paw wax can also provide a level of protection from the elements.

3.   Dress Your Dog in Layers

Photo by Gabriel Tamblin on Unsplash

If your dog is sensitive to cold temperatures, or if you’re out below 20℉ (-7℃), a sweater or jacket will add another layer of warmth to keep them comfortable.

To make sure your dog’s coat fits properly, consider their weight and their measurements to find their true size. Measure the circumference of their neck and the widest part of their chest, as well as the length from their collar to the base of their tail.

Your dog’s coat should be snug enough that it retains its body heat, but still loose enough to fit at least two fingers underneath.

4.   Limit Bath Time

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Even if you bathe your dog’s inside, the excess moisture on their skin and coat can keep them feeling colder for longer. Plus, too many baths can contribute to your dog’s dry skin, which is already drier in the winter months.

Limit your dog’s bath time to only when it’s absolutely necessary.

5.   Exercise with Your Dog Often

man walking his dogs
Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Physical activity is a great way to get your dog’s blood pumping and warm them up, even outside in the cold.

The winter weather may scare you away from your usual walks and outdoor playtime, but exercise is just as important in the winter as at other times of the year.

Take your dog for a run, a winter hike, or simply toss around a ball in the backyard. As long as you gear your dog up with a coat and keep them out of dangerously cold temperatures, your dog will have just as much fun, no matter the season.

Make this Winter a Wonderland for Your Dog

dog walking in snow
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Despite the cold temperatures, dark days, and inclement weather, winter can still be fun for your dog. In fact, the snow opens up so many new adventures for your dog to explore, as long as you keep their safety in mind.

With proper safety precautions, you’ll have a fun, safe winter that your dog will remember.

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