How To Keep Your Dog Comfortable & Warm This Winter

Winter is a fast-approaching season, and sometimes it can seem that it happens overnight, and you wake to find frost or fluffy snowflakes all over the ground. With temperatures dropping to freezing, as a dog owner, there are some things you should be aware of to help keep your dog from becoming too cold. Changes in the weather affect our dogs just like they can affect us.

Even though your dog has fur, that doesn’t mean that it is equipped to handle the cold temperatures for extended periods. Changes in the weather affect our dogs just like they can affect us. Not all dogs can handle freezing temperatures outdoors. Below are some helpful tips and things to know when making sure your furry friend is comfortable in the cold.

What Dogs Can Handle Cold Weather?

Different breeds of dogs have a better time coping with cold temperatures than others. For example, dogs with longer, shaggy furs are provided more insulation and are better equipped to handle winter weather. Some of these breeds of dog include:

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  • Siberian Husky (many of these breeds were actually bred to handle the cold temperatures since huskies have been utilized as Alaskan sled dogs for many years.)
  • Collie 
  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Labrador Retriever

Even though many of these breeds can withstand colder temperatures, you should still be aware that your dog isn’t exposed to the frigid weather for too long. If you take a car trip with your dog, be sure not to leave your dog alone in the car, and this doesn’t just go for cold temperatures, but in any weather.

There are some risks of having dogs outdoors for too long in winter, such as having them become lost due to snow. The cold weather then makes it challenging for them to find their way home. Take necessary precautions that your dogs have identification in case this happens.

Dogs with short fur or tighter coats tend to have a more challenging time in colder weather and don’t like to be outdoors in freezing temperatures for a long time. Some breeds that are included in these types of dogs are:

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  • Boxer
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Great Dane
  • Shih Tzu
  • Chihuahua
  • Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier

Many of the smaller breeds above enjoy having sweaters or other dog apparel when going out in the cold to take a walk or go to the bathroom. Ensure that when you are putting clothes on your dog, they are snug but not too tight-fitting, and ensure that the material you use isn’t itchy or irritating to their skin.

Signs That Your Dog Is Cold

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If you live in an area where temperatures get below freezing, you should be alert and watch for signs and symptoms when your dog is getting too cold outdoors. Pets that are left outside for too long can experience hypothermia and frostbite, which in some cases can be fatal. Areas like the tips of their ears, end of their tails, and paws are areas most susceptible to the cold. 

Your dog will show some signs that the cold might be too much for it. Some of the symptoms that dogs display when feeling too cold are:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Whimpering or whining
  • Shivering

The veterinarians at Bond Vet clinics also advise that if your dog seems weak from being out in the cold, this could be another sign of distress from the cold. They also state that puppies, older dogs, pregnant dogs, and dogs with illnesses tend to be more vulnerable in the cold weather. So make sure you promptly address this and any other signs of cold by taking your dog back indoors to warm up. 

Keep walks and bathroom trips to a minimum, and check your dog when they come in from outdoors for things like ice balls on their legs and feet. These can be uncomfortable for your dog to walk on, just as the salt on sidewalks can corrode their little paws.

Keeping Your Dog Warm Inside

Many dog owners tend to keep their dogs inside the majority of the day. Therefore, you should have a kennel or a space within your home that your dog will primarily be in throughout each day. In addition, to help with plunging temperatures at night, you can invest in a comfortable dog bed to help ensure your dog stays warm. 

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If it’s especially cold or drafty in the area where your dog sleeps, think about purchasing a heat lamp or small heater to have nearby, or consider relocating your dog’s bed. You could also get extra throw blankets so that they can stay nice and toasty when they sleep. Just be sure that you are exercising proper care and that the heating element is safe for your dog.

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Consult Your Vet With Any Concerns

If you have any concerns about whether or not your dog is getting enough food during the winter months or is more susceptible to cold, you should consult with your veterinarian. They can give you more insight into your specific dog’s breed and history and assist you in ensuring that you are doing all that you can to keep your pup safe and comfortable throughout the cold winter months. 

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