January 8, 2022

How to Keep Your Dog Warm During Winter

Keep Your Dog Warm | All dog owners need to be aware of how to keep your dog warm in the winter.  There are several important factors about your dog’s safety and comfort to keep in mind as cold weather approaches. Wintertime can be hazardous for dogs if they are not acclimatized to cold temperatures or if they have a short-haired coat.  Even if your dog has a long coat, it may be susceptible to health risks if exposed to the cold for a long period of time.

Here are some things to avoid during winter to keep your dog safe and comfortable.

Limit Time Spent Outdoors

The key point to remember here is if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog. If you are taking your dog out for a walk during winter, it’s better to go for shorter, more frequent walks to protect your pet from weather-associated health risks. Such risks include frostbites (Frozen skin tissue) or hypothermia (low body temperature). Even if your dog has a thick coat, it cannot protect all its body parts. Their ears and nose are exposed to the cold, and their paws are in direct contact with cold cement or snow. It is important not to leave your dog unattended outside for any length of time. Only take them outside if they are active or need to exercise. Limit the duration of your walk if it’s getting too cold. Be mindful to keep your dog on a leash when going for a walk. This can prevent your dog from getting lost in the cold woods or in a snowstorm.

When is it too cold for your dog?

Like humans, dogs can tolerate cold to different degrees. Your dog’s breed, nutritional status, physical conditioning, coat density, and acclimation all influence this. Northern breeds such as Siberian or Alaskan huskies, malamutes, and Burmese Mountain dogs can tolerate cold temperatures very well due to their thick undercoats. It can take between one week to two months for a healthy dog to climatize to extreme temperatures. Effects of low temperatures are often also magnified by the level of wind and wetness.

Pay attention to the signals your pet gives you. If your dog is dragging you home, refusing to go for a walk, or shivering, it is probably too cold for them.  Dr. Lauren Cohn from Fishtown Animal Hospital, Philadelphia, advised dog owners to stay alert from 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

If your dog is elderly, suffers from illnesses, is a puppy, or is pregnant, it is more vulnerable to cold weather.

A Cozy Corner

If your dog stays indoors, a soft bed or a thick blanket should provide enough warmth to keep your dog warm during winter. A self-warming pet mat is also a good idea if your dog sleeps in a particularly chilly part of the house.  Self-warming pet mats usually retain your dog’s body heat and also come with a removable microwavable heating pad. But do be mindful of safety. Heated mats can, at times, burn your dog’s skin. Make sure your dog is able to jump off the mat whenever it wants.

If your dog spends time outdoors for more than potty breaks and walks, make sure it has adequate shelter. An outdoor doghouse is a good idea where your dog can stay warm and dry from cold, wet weather. The doghouse should be elevated from the ground a few inches and should have a door flap to keep out drafts of wind. It should also have soft dry bedding to keep your dog warm. Hay or straw can also be good insulators, and dogs can burrow down in them.

Dress Your Dog Warmly

If you have a small dog or a breed with short hair, they might need some extra help in chilly weather. This is also true for puppies or elderly dogs as they find it harder to control body heat. A sweater or coat is a good idea to keep your dog warm. If it’s so cold outside that you feel you need to cover your dog’s head as well, then avoid going outdoors at all.

Dogs lose most of their body heat through their ears, paws, and respiration, so a coat or sweater that covers them from neck to tail works well. Make sure the sweater /coat is not too tight for your dog around the neck. You should be able to fit two fingers comfortably between the neck of the coat and your dog’s skin. The material should not be itchy, and there should be no sharp edges, zippers, or seams that can irritate your dog while walking or lying down.

To keep your dog’s coat healthy during winter, also increase the protein and fat content in their diet.

Check Their Paws

If you live in an area where there is snow and ice, make it a point to regularly wipe your dog’s feet after its walk. Your dog might have stepped on ice-melting chemicals that can irritate or burn its dog pads. Some of these products are also poisonous if ingested.  You can also make your dog wear doggy booties to avoid getting sharp pieces of ice or balls of snow getting stuck in your dog’s pads.  If your dog is not used to wearing booties, introduce them gradually. Wearing boots is not a natural sensation for a dog and sometimes would require some getting used to.

Our Final Thoughts

Be sure to follow these tips on how to keep your dog warm during winter. Just like how dogs can easily get overheated in summer, they are also vulnerable in the winter. Avoid going outside more than necessary if the weather temperature is too low. Dog sweaters, coats, and booties are useful items to purchase if you have a short-haired breed or live somewhere prone to snow and ice. It is of vital importance that these cute canines stay warm and comfortable during difficult winter months.  Here are some scarfs for your pup:  www.happybreath.com/product-category/apparel/dog-scarfs-apparel

by Bobby J Davidson

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