- Does your dog shiver when you go outside for just a minute or does it like to frolic in the snow? During the winter season, many dogs feel the cold as much as their owners do, especially when they are not used to the cold. However, other dogs have been bred to deal with the cold better than any human ever could. In order to keep your specific dog warm through the winter months it is important to think about their breed and their health, while also remembering that it's worth your time to make sure your pup stays nice and warm all winter.
1. Groom your dog well. Avoid trimming, shaving or cutting your dog's hair because a dog's full weight coat is his source of warmth during winter. It is important to maintain a good grooming regime, combing out knots and brushing the coat thoroughly, through winter too, as matted hair is less efficient at keeping out the snow and cold rain, and does not insulate the dog as well. Consistent grooming can alleviate dander problems in dogs living through dry winters, should this be a problem for your dog.
2. Bathe your dog indoors. Make sure your dog is completely dried before letting him or her outside. Give fewer baths during cold snaps, or consider skipping baths altogether. Remember, in cold weather it takes the dog longer to dry off. This will help you to keep them away from severe cold problems.
- If important, give shorter baths with warm water and dry your dog as quickly as possible. Never bathe a dog in cold water, as this will chill him or her, and the low atmospheric temperature will give him or her little chance to warm up.
3. Keep the hair around paw pads well trimmed. This will help prevent ice and snow balling up between footpads. After walks outside, check paw pads for cracks, cuts, and any foreign debris. Where practical, keep his or her pads in good condition by applying a little vaseline or E45 to condition them, but beware of sticky paw prints over the house though!
- If your dog won't wear dog booties, be sure to clean off the salt and snow removal chemicals after every walk; the chemicals can be toxic and the salt will become an irritant.
4. Avoid overfeeding your dog. It is important for your dog to eat regularly and well during colder months, in order to keep up energy and warmth. However, an indoor dog does not need increased food amounts over the winter. Doing so can risk creating an overweight dog.
- More food for a dog is only justifiable for dogs living outdoors all of the time and for dogs who are especially active during the winter months. Talk to your vet about your dog's particular energy needs.
- Be sure that your dog has constant access to clean, unfrozen water, indoors and outdoors. Heated bowls can be purchased for use outside.
Method 2 of 4: Keeping Your Dog Healthy Over the Winter1. Guard against canine winter illnesses. As with humans, dogs can fall ill during the colder months, especially when cold or as a result of winter conditions. Respiratory infections in damp climates, frostbite, and consumption of toxic substances are some of the principal concerns.
2. Keep your dog dry and warm. This will help to guard against respiratory infections, such as kennel cough (the human equivalent of a cold). If your dog gets a respiratory infection, seek veterinary attention immediately. Be aware that if you have several dogs all sharing the same air space, such as in a communal kennel, then illnesses are more likely to spread.
3. Frostbite can be a problem for some dogs, especially hairless varieties.Check the ear tips and tail tips in particular. If they look and feel cold, appear white, red or gray, and/or are dry and hard, then frostbite may have occurred.
- If you suspect frostbite, wrap your dog's extremities in blankets or towels to warm them gradually and see the vet immediately.
4. Keep winter-time toxic items away from dogs. Anti-freeze tastes unusually sweet to dogs and they will lick it if they can access it. It only takes four teaspoons worth to kill a dog under 10 pounds.
- If your dog does ingest antifreeze, see a vet immediately, as treatment needs to be given within hours to save your dog's life.
- Another toxic problem during winter is rat bait, used in greater amounts due to everyone living in close proximity over winter. Keep all toxic items well out of the reach of dogs and other pets and clean up any spills immediately.
5. Pay attention to your dog's existing ailments. Your dog's arthritis and osteoarthritis can be exacerbated by cold weather. Talk to your vet about medication, treatment options, and ways to keep your arthritic dog fit and warm through winter.
6. Take shorter walks when the weather is severely cold. Don't try to take your dog on the same length walks as during warmer weather. A shorter walk can still accomplish enough exercise and relief breaks without causing your dog (and you) to become too cold.
- Even if you are indoors, keep exercising. Play indoor games with your dog, such as fetch, tug-of-war, hiding toys, and if it's possible to let them run around inside, then do so. Run them up and down the stairs for agility practice. Keep in mind that if your dog has some joint or hip problems they may not be able to run, so just let them walk up and down the stairs.
7. Be aware that sheet ice is slippery for dogs as well as people. Slipping on ice can lead to strains and sprains, so never encourage your dog to play on ice, especially games such as fetch or frisbee.
- Keep dogs away from icy ponds or bodies of water. The ice may look firm, but if the dog falls through he could drown. Unfortunately, people trying to rescue their dogs also drown, so sad as it is never be tempted to try to rescue your dog.
8. Keep your dog on a leash when walking in winter. If something happens, such as a snowstorm, the sudden appearance of an ice plow, or if your dog rushes out onto an ice lake and falls in, you won't be able to help or retrieve your bolting or falling dog. Make sure you take a charged up cellphone with you in case you or your dog has a problem, so that you can call for help.
1. Understand your breed's particular susceptibility to the cold. Some dog breeds are more prone to the cold than others, while some breeds are adapted extremely well to the cold. Dogs that do not do well in the cold should not be outdoor dogs. However, even dogs that do well in the cold need warmth and shelter to thrive as outdoor dogs.
- Dogs that are great in the cold include Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskiesand Chow Chows.
- Dogs that find it harder include Dobermans, toy dogs, low hair or hairless dogs, and Greyhounds. Any shaven or excessively clipped dog will fall into this category as well because the thick winter coat is a dog's insulation.
2. Provide appropriate shelter. It is optimal if your dog can remain indoors throughout winter, going outside for exercising and answering nature's call only. This will ensure that your dog doesn't get cold while you're out or asleep. Young puppies should not be left outside as they don't have the ability of older dogs to keep themselves warm outside.
- If you have an outside dog (such as a sled dog), ensure that it has access to a shelter and bedding inside the shelter. Fresh straw provides a suitable layer of insulation against the cold of the ground for an outside shelter. Be sure to change it regularly though.
- An outdoor dog shelter should have a sloped roof, insulation and heating, especially for very cold climate locations. For rainy winters, ensure that the entrance way is protected so that rain cannot get into the shelter.
3. Make sure the shelter is adequately insulated. In an outdoor kennel situation, consider creating a false floor that is lifted 4 - 6 inches off the ground. Place insulating material such as straw or bubble wrap in this gap, to prevent cold radiating up from the ground. You can also use this gap by placing a hot water bottle beneath it to give under floor heating on a particularly cold day.
- On top of the false floor, ensure the dog has plenty of warm bedding. Whilst blankets are good, make sure the dog has deep straw on top of the platform. Provide a minimum of 6 inches of compacted straw, but consider banking it up around the walls, and providing extra loose straw so that the dog can circle around and create a nest to snuggle down into. This will help keep the heat in around the dog's limbs and also reduce drafts.
- Remember, if it's not warm enough for you to spend the night in, then the kennel isn't warm enough for your dog.
4. Make sure the shelter protects from the wind. The wind chill factor significantly magnifies the intensity of the cold. Always make sure outside dogs are completely protected from the wind. If they are kenneled, perhaps add porch onto the entrance so that wind into the kennel is reduced, Work out which way the prevailing wind tends to blow, and then face the entrance in the opposite direction. This also gives you the opportunity to put insulation around the kennel, especially on the side the prevailing wind strikes, in order to reduce heat loss. To get an idea of the wind chill factor you can look online for relevant meteorological websites sites.
5. Bring all outdoor dogs inside if the cold spell becomes exceptionally cold and long; even a barn is warmer than an outdoor dog shelter. Remember the more layers of insulation you add, the cozier the kennel will be. Consider covering the kennel with an old duvet and then throwing a tarpaulin over that, to help beef up the protection.
6. Check the kennel daily to make sure it is dry and there are no leaks in the rough. Wet and cold are far more dangerous than dry cold. Also check the bedding is warm and dry. A dog lying on soiled bedding will quickly develop sores and infected patches of skin.
Method 4 of 4: Keeping an Outdoor Dog Warm in the Winter1. Ensure that the bedding is warm and well placed. Bedding is an important part of keeping a dog warm through winter. If your dog sleeps on the ground or somewhere with drafts, place the bed up off the floor. You can do this by putting the dog bed on a low platform, raised a few inches off the ground. The object is to stop heat loss by transmission with the ground.
- You can easily improvise a platform with a sheet of hardboard resting on some books or a bricks.
- A custom-made bed with cushioned insert, blankets, and old clothing make good, warm bedding.
2. Provide heating on cold nights. This is especially important for old and arthritic dogs. Consider using a heated dog bed or a hot water bottle. Once the dog realizes how nice and snuggly a heated bed feels, most accept it and even look forward to being tucked in at night.
- Older dogs in particular, stiffen up in the colder weather. Keeping heat in around their joints can greatly aid their comfort. Again, simple things can help, such as placing a thick blanket over the dog once they have settled down for the night.
- If your dog is well past the chewing stage in his life, then look for bags of cherry stones which you can microwave and are designed to keep human joints warm. Following the manufacturer's instructions, heat the bag up in the microwave and lay it over the stiffest or most swollen of the dog's joint, then cover him with a blanket, which will give him extra comfort.
- There are a variety of pet electric blankets or heat mats available, and another type of mat to investigate is a whelping blanket. These are designed to keep young puppies warm and provide a gentle background level of heat which is safe to be lain on for long periods of time. When choosing a heat mat, always carefully read the instructions to see if the pet can lie directly on it without the risk of thermal burns. Some mats designed for veterinary use are not safe to be laid on directly and require that they are covered with a blanket to avoid burns.
4. Use canine clothing options for particular dogs and situations. Canine clothing can help to keep your dog warm through winter. It is especially good for small or toy dogs, dogs without long hair (for example, whippets and greyhounds), and old or sick dogs. One of the key signs that your dog may need some clothing is if a dog is shivering, just like a human.
- Dog jackets, snuggies, and sweaters can be purchased or made (knit, sew, crochet, or quilt) for any sized dog. For wetter winters, you might like to attach a rainproof layer over the top but make sure that it is breathable.
- Make sure any dog clothing is dry before use. If the dog goes outside in a wet coat, the wind will cause the water to evaporate and drag the dog's body heat with it, thus making it cold. It is a good idea to have several items of clothing so that you can have some in the wash, some drying, and some ready for wear.
- Where possible, remove the clothing when your dog is inside, unless the temperature in the house is very low. If a dog wears clothing all the time it won't feel the benefit when it goes outside.
5. Use booties to protect your dog's paws when walking on snow and salt. Salt serves as an irritant on dog paws and snow is very cold. Booties will keep the paws warm and free from salt irritation. However, unless you've trained your dog to accept booties from puppyhood, this can be a bit of battle with some dogs who won't tolerate wearing them.
- If your dog is having difficulty wearing booties, use positive reinforcement training. Put a bootie on one foot, feed a treat, then remove it. Repeat daily and gradually increase the amount of booties until the dog is used to having them put on.
- Never leave your dog outside for a long time in freezing temperatures.
- Never leave a dog inside a cold car. When the heater is off and the temperatures drop rapidly, it's like sitting in a freezer, and the air doesn't circulate but stays very cold.
- Never keep an indoor dog outdoors during winter. Dogs need time to acclimatize to temperature changes. If you want to house an indoor dog outside over winter, start acclimatizing him or her in autumn so that it gets used to the temperature changes and its coat responds by growing thicker.
- If your dog does fall into an icy lake or river, call for help. Do not endanger your own life trying to rescue a dog.
An article we found in WikiHow.