Just because they have fluffy coats, doesn’t mean that all dogs are prepared for the winter. How well they cope in low temperatures, snow, and ice depends on their breed, age, coat density, and their health.
So, what are the best ways to protect dogs in winter and what should we be looking out for?
How do dogs stay warm in winter?
This really depends on the breed. Winter puppies and dogs such as Siberian Huskies and Pomeranians have a double coat. The undercoat is made up of short hairs that insulate body heat, whilst the overcoat is thicker and repels water.
Dogs shiver, just like humans. These short muscle spasms raise their body temperature and generate heat. Also like us, shivering means they’re very cold, so try to get them inside as quickly as possible.
Even though some dogs are more prepared than others for the outdoors, there are a few things you can do to protect your dog in winter. And it’s not just about staying warm!
Let's start with our 10 tips to protect dogs in winter.
Bring them inside if you can!
It might sound obvious, but keeping your pups inside as often as possible in winter really helps to protect them. Even outdoor dogs should sleep inside during extremely cold weather if they can.
Give them adequate shelter
If it isn’t possible to bring your dog inside during the colder months, you need to provide them with an insulated dog house.
The floor needs to be at least 5 inches off the ground and you should put an insulating layer of straw down beneath the bedding. This will stop the cold rising and drafts. Make sure you provide your pup with enough blankets so they can make themselves a cozy nest!
Make sure their water doesn’t freeze!
Dogs that sleep outside or in a porch need to have access to fresh and non-frozen water. Either regularly put out fresh water, or get yourself a heated water bowl so they don’t go thirsty!
Reduce walk time
All dogs in winter should spend less time outside. Try shortening their walks, going out during daylight, and giving them plenty of exercise to raise their body temperature. For dogs with lots of energy, it might be a good idea to have two shorter walks per day so they can warm up in between.
Avoid overfeeding your pup!
Dogs need food to give them energy and keep them warm. Indoor dogs, however, don’t need any more food in winter. Dogs that constantly live outside or exercise more in winter might do. If you’re not sure, contact your vet to check.
Dress for the occasion!
Dog jackets and clothing are especially great for small dogs, those with little hair, and old dogs. They’re also good for puppies. They should cover your dog from tail to neck and also their stomachs for optimal warmth!
Look after their paws
When thinking about how to keep dogs and puppies warm in winter, it’s important to think about their paws. The fur between their toes needs regular trimming to stop ice from building up. Salt, grit, and poisonous liquids such as anti-freeze are also a problem, so make sure you clean their paws when you get back. Wearing dog booties can be a good idea.
Groom them properly
It’s important not to shave or trim your pooch too much in winter, as their coats are important in keeping them warm. You should, however, always groom them properly. Mattered fur isn’t as good an insulator and fur health is important.
Bathe your dogs inside
To help protect your dogs in winter, you should always wash them inside in warm water. Their fur takes a while to thoroughly dry, so make sure you keep them inside until they’re no longer wet. You might want to consider bathing them a little less in the winter months.
Having somewhere warm to sleep is really important for dogs in winter. They need plenty of blankets and shouldn’t be sleeping on the floor, especially on tiles. Try raising their beds up a little and arranging the blankets in a donut shape to keep them extra warm!
It’s really important to keep your pups as warm and as healthy as possible in winter. If you notice constant shaking, sore body parts, or blisters on their skin you should ring the vet.
What do you do to protect your dog in winter? Let us know in the comments!
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!