How to Keep your Dog Safe and Warm in Winter
WITH WINTER upon us, it’s important to keep your best friend warm and cosy too. While many people assume that a dog will be warm through the winter just because it has a furry coat, dogs are just as susceptible to the same effects of the cold as humans are.
Of course, your dog’s sensitivity to the cold will depend on several factors including its breed, age, and genetic history too. Knowing your dog is just as important as learning some general winter guidance to keep them warm though, so it’s always worth knowing a few top tips.
How warm should my dog be?
Dogs have a higher base level of body temperature than humans do. Whie you might expect a healthy adult human to be sitting around 37.5°C, a dog at this temperature would be dangerously close to being hypothermic. Additionally, you might be surprised to know that dogs can get frostbite too, so it’s vital to protect their paws if you live in a snowy place or somewhere that’s frequently gritted.
How do I know if my dog is too cold?
Some breeds of dogs feel the cold more than others. However, most breeds display the same signs if they’re not feeling warm enough. A few things to look out for include shivering, cowering away, curling up into a ball. Some dogs might even appear weak and lethargic when they’re too cold, but it’s important to recognise when a change in behaviour could point to Canine Cushing or anything else that requires a vet visit.
How to keep your dog warm in winter
- Keep them active during the day
Going for longer walks and playing games is guaranteed to help your dog warm up naturally through the day. Like humans, dogs generate heat when they move, so it’s best not to make sure that he or she is sitting down all day. If you work from home, try to give your dog regular breaks to run around the garden or a quick walk at lunchtime. A dog is much more likely to sleep after exercise too, meaning they can cosy up in their bed straight away.
- Dress them in a coat on walks
If you’re going out walking in frosty conditions or even sub-zero temperatures, it’s vital to make sure that your dog stays warm on the walk. While some dogs, like huskies or Alaskan Malamutes, will quite happily exercise and rest in cold conditions, other shorthaired breeds are simply not put out to cope with these conditions.
For smaller breeds, it’s imperative to make sure that they can stay cosy while you’re outside. Certain breeds, like Italian Greyhounds, also feel the cold more than others, so make sure you get in touch with your vet about the best steps towards keeping them warm on winter adventures.
- Give them extra blankets
If your dog’s sleeping space is on the floor, it’s a good idea to add some extra insulation so that he or she can stay just as warm when the temperature drops overnight.
Fluffy blankets, or a soft bed rather than a hard plastic one, can make quite a bit of difference when it comes to keeping your dog comfortable. If you’re not heating your home, you will need to take this step extra seriously. If possible, try and make sure that your dog’s bed is placed near a radiator or heat source so that they can intermittently feel warmer during the night.
- Keep them dry
Lastly, as you might know from your own experiences leaving the house with wet hair, dogs will feel much colder if they’re left with a wet coat. If you’ve been out in the rain or your dog has just had a bath during winter, make sure to tell dry them thoroughly or use a blow-dryer if they’re comfortable with that.
Your dog won’t be able to keep as warm if you leave them with a wet coat, especially overnight. You could even risk something like hypothermia – so it’s a good idea to make sure your dog is always dry and warm, even if it takes a few extra minutes at the end of the day.
We hope you’ve found some useful tips to keep your four-legged friend cosy this winter. If you have any more advice, please feel free to share it in the comments section below!