Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm in Winter
As the snow and frost come this holiday season, and the temperature plunges below zero, it’s important you give your loving canine an extra bit of warmth. Use our handy tips below to make sure your dog has as much fun this holiday season as you do!
Limit Unnecessary Time Spent Outside
Not all dogs are made the same; humans too for that point. The dog species is the most physically diverse in the animal kingdom. You can have small designer breeds measuring a tiny eight pounds in size, to giant breed dogs weighing in excess of 100 pounds.
Because of this diversity, not all dogs are designed for that sharp winter cold, its freezing temperatures tests some dogs’ ability to regulate their body temperature. This is because some dogs have what’s known as double coats, like German Shepherds and hunting dogs. These coats have two layers: one layer is a short dense undercoat, useful for regulating the dog’s body temperature, the second layer is a longer fur used to protect against moisture.
Dogs without double coats, especially smaller dogs, therefore, struggle to regulate their body temperature in extreme weather conditions, both hot and cold. A good example of this is a Chihuahu.
Limiting your dog’s time spent outdoors is a good idea during these months, or changing the time at which you exercise and walk your dog. Try sticking to daylight hours, and dressing your dog with a good quality jacket, are a good ways to help your fury friend stay warm and have a good time.
If your dog has outside kennels which they use during the summer, make sure they are watertight and windproof. If you wouldn’t sleep in it, then don’t expect your dog to. If your dog doesn’t use a kennel in the winter, then it’s best to place it in storage.
Your dog’s paws will be in touch with the cold tarmac roads and pavements; these roads are often treated with grit and pesticides to help prevent ice. Observe your dog’s licking behaviors and if necessary, when returning back from a walk, wash their paws down with room temperature water.
Keeping Your Dog Warm Inside
Once inside, most dogs are very effective at regulating their own body temperature, unless it’s a relatively new born puppy (in which case you will need some infra-red lamps).
It’s not recommended to wrap up or put costumes on dogs whilst they are in a home. If anything, this may make it more difficult for them to reduce their body temperature and keep their temperature regulated.
A good idea is to use blankets in the shape of a doughnut and place them on the floor. Make sure the ring in the center of the doughnut is large enough for your dog to curl into. This will then allow your dog to enter and leave the blankets freely increasing and reducing their body temperature.
If your dog sleeps in a crate, this is as simple as placing the blankets inside their crate on-top of their normal bed. If not, find a quiet and draft proof corner in your home and create the doughnut blankets there. You can encourage your dog to use the blankets with positive reinforcement.
Safety Precautions, Hypothermia and Frostbite
As always during the winter season, make sure you know the warning signs of hypothermia. Exposure to a bitterly cold wind, especially on sensitive areas such as ears, can cause frostbite, especially if your dog has gotten wet during the walk. Look for:
- Shivering for longer than ten minutes after returning home
- Unexpected whimpering and anxiety immediately after a walk
- Slow body movement
If you observe any of these symptoms after a walk with your dog during extreme temperatures, then immediately contact your vet.