How To Keep Your Dog Warm and Safe In Winter

How To Keep Your Dog Warm and Safe In Winter

As temperatures dip to freezing or below, it’s crucial that you know how to keep your dog as warm and safe as possible. These winter months can be hard on pups, especially those not bred for cold weather, but there are plenty of steps you can take to keep your dog warm and safe this winter. 

The main thing is to make sure your dog has plenty of food and a warm place to stay. But there are a few more tricks that you can use to make sure your dog not only survives winter, but also thrives all season long!

Poodle running happily and playfully through the snow

Steps To Keep Your Dog Warm This Winter

Some dogs with thick, heavy fur coats don’t need as much pampering in winter. Dogs such as Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Alaskan Malamutes do much better in winter weather. 

Know your dog and how well they handle the cold. Most dogs with more fur still start getting cold when it reaches around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, smaller dogs not bred for winter need support as soon as temps get down around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition, old dogs and young puppies have a more difficult time regulating their temperatures. If your dog is old or young, keep an extra close eye on them and provide lots of extra support. Don’t keep these dogs outside if you can help it!

1. Provide Shelter

If your dog lives indoors, then great! They’ll likely be cozy and warm as long as you are. But if your dog lives outdoors or spends a lot of time out in the yard, they will need a good shelter to keep them warm. 

One good tip is to get them a shelter that is raised at least a few inches off the ground. That will help keep the floor dry and warm. You may want to consider an insulated shelter and/or one in which you can hook up a heating lamp (out of reach) if you live in an especially cold area.

Line the floor with straw or cedar shavings to provide extra warmth. Also, make sure the door is covered by something sturdy like a heavy plastic or burlap to hold in warmth.

2. Offer Lots of Food

Dogs need lots of energy to keep warm, which means they also need lots of food to keep that energy up. Offer them even more food in winter than you normally would to ensure they have what they need to keep them warm.

Be sure that if you are feeding your dog outside, you provide them with plastic bowls for their food and water. Metal bowls can get icy and cause your dog’s tongue to stick to them. You could also consider a heated water bowl if you don’t want to constantly be breaking ice and replacing your dog’s water after it freezes.

3. Protect the Paws

Dog’s paws are incredibly sensitive. If your dogs will be on the snow and ice a lot, you may want to provide them with booties or socks made for cold weather to protect their feet from cuts or other injuries. 

If you take a walk in the city, you’ll likely run into rock salt or ice melt on the sidewalks. While these tools are important to prevent pedestrians from slipping, they can get stuck in dog’s paws and cause discomfort. Your dog may lick them off, which could irritate their mouth or even cause illness.

If you’re walking and your dog’s feet are bare, be sure to immediately wash and wipe them with warm water when you get home from your walk. If your pup has long fur on the paws, keep it well-trimmed to prevent ice balls from building up between the toes. 

4. Pile Up the Blankets

Whether your dog is living indoors or outdoors, they’re sure to appreciate a few extra blankets in the winter! Make sure your pup has plenty of blankets available for them to curl up in, preferably in their favorite spots to curl up and sleep.

5. Try a Heating Pad

Heating pads are safe and relatively inexpensive. If your dog is going to be outside or is prone to get extra chilly in winter, provide a heating pad under their bed or in their favorite napping spot. 

6. Be Careful About Outdoor Time

If your dog isn’t used to the cold, limit their outdoor time as much as possible. You can always play some fun indoor dog games if they’re getting bored! Also, be sure not to let your dog out immediately after a bath, as wet fur will only make them colder. Dry your dog well and let them stay warm inside for a bit before letting them back out.

7. Buy a Sweater

If you live anywhere near dogs and dog owners, you’ve definitely seen some cute dog sweaters out there! You can also make your own, of course, if that’s something you enjoy doing. Either way, be sure your dog has a nice heavy sweater and perhaps even a winter coat if your dog is short-haired and bred for warmer weather. 

Pug wearing a red sweater, sitting content off to the left of the picture

Tips To Keep Your Dog Safe This Winter

In addition to keeping your dog warm, there are a few ways you can work to keep them extra safe. 

  • Keep your dog away from antifreeze. Antifreeze is incredibly dangerous, but has a sweet taste that makes it attractive to dogs, children, and other pets. Keep it high and out of reach! 
    • Signs of poisoning to watch for if you suspect your dog ate antifreeze include vomiting, drooling, seizures, panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, and a drunken sway. Call your vet immediately if you notice these signs.
  • Avoid thin ice. Dogs generally like to run anywhere and everywhere to explore the world, but don’t let them out on thin ice if you can avoid it! They could easily fall in and suffer from hypothermia.
  • Watch for signs your dog is cold. Some symptoms include:
    • Lethargy 
    • A runny nose
    • Watery eyes
    • Loss of appetite
    • A low fever
    • Sneezing
    • Whining
    • Anxiety
    • Shivering
    • Weakness
  • Watch for frostbite symptoms like pain, swelling, cold skin, pale, blue, gray, or discolored skin, and blisters. Frostbite is especially common in small areas like the paws, ears, and tail.

If you follow these steps, you should easily be able to keep your dog safe and warm all winter long!

If you’d like help keeping your dog’s yard clean, especially in cold winter months where you don’t want to be out too often, our team can help you! Check out our services to learn how we can pick up the poop from your dog’s yard to keep it safe, happy, and healthy all winter.