How to keep your dog warm this winter
How to keep your dog warm in cold weather
Just like us humans, dogs get cold. So, if you're feeling a chill in the air, your dog probably is, too. Sure, some dogs have thicker coats and more natural resistance to the cold than others, but all dogs need some extra care and attention in the colder months.
We've got the answers about how to keep your dog warm this winter, from cozy coats to more time spent indoors. Snuggle up with your furry best friend this winter and stay out of the cold.
Choose warm dog bedding
Night is a common time for dogs to get cold. Unless it's seriously freezing outside, most people don't leave their heating on all night. While you might be tucked up in bed under warm blankets, dogs can get chilly at night and have an unsettled sleep. Start out by getting your dog a bed that provides adequate padding between your dog and the cold floor. You can even buy self-warming beds that contain a layer of heat-reflective material that bounces the warmth from your dog's body back at them.
We'd also recommend buying a cozy blanket for your dog. Cover them over at bedtime and they might even still be covered in the morning or they may work out how to get back under the covers. Otherwise, a comfortable sweater is great nighttime wear. Or you could opt for a covered dog bed.
Limit outdoor time
In the warmer months, you might give your dog free reign of the yard, letting them sniff around and lounge out there for as long as they choose, but you can't extend these habits into the winter. You might think your dog would come back inside as soon as they get too cold, but many dogs get so preoccupied with digging in the snow or smelling all the scents in the air that they'll stay out much longer than they should and end up dangerously cold. It's your job as a responsible pet owner to limit your dog's outdoor times.
By all means, let them out for as many potty breaks as they need and allow them to wander around, but keep it to between two and 10 minutes at a time, depending on the outdoor temperature and your dog's natural cold tolerance. You might also choose to take your dog on two or three short walks a day instead of one long one.
Choose walk times carefully
If you want to stick to longer walks, despite the cold, make sure to time then for the warmest parts of the day. It's generally warmest between 12 and 2 in the afternoon, since the temperature has had some time to rise after dropping during the night. Early in the morning and late at night are the coldest times of the day, so these are best avoided unless you have no other feasible options.
Dress your dog for cold weather
You wouldn't go out without a coat on a freezing cold day, so why should your dog? A thick, well-insulated dog coat is just what your canine companion needs for going on walks on cold days. If you experience regular wet weather in your area, choose a warm coat that's also waterproof.
Be mindful, however, of how much exercise your dog does on walks. Dogs running off the leash can quickly overheat in a thick coat unless it's well below the freezing point, so they might be better off with a light sweater.
Take care of your dog's paws
Dogs' paws can suffer in the winter if you don't pay attention. Ice crystals can form on the hair between your dog's paws when walking them in snow and ice, so trim any excess fur sticking out from between the pads to minimize this. If you live in an area when snow and ice is a common occurrence in the winter, get your pup used to wearing dog boots to protect their paws from frigid conditions.
Unless they're wearing boots, it's important to wash your dog's paws after winter walks. It's common for substances such as salt, de-icers, and antifreeze to make their way onto the ground in the winter. Not only can these substances irritate paws, some are highly toxic to dogs and can cause serious illness if dogs lick them off their paws. Washing your dog's paws in warm water gets rid of these substances and warms up the paws, which is beneficial after a long, cold walk.
Consider your dog's breed or coat type
It's true that your dog's breed and/or coat type plays a part in how much help they need to stay warm in the winter. Dogs such as huskies and Samoyeds were bred to withstand the conditions in parts of the world where winters are harsh and snowy. As such, they might be quite happy to run around in a snow filled yard for an hour or two, while a short-haired dog would get extremely cold in this time.
Short-haired dogs tend to feel the cold the worst, but having a long coat doesn't necessarily mean a dog can stay warm effectively. Dogs with long, silky coats like long-haired Yorkshire terriers won't stay much warmer than a short-haired dog. What keeps dogs warm is having a dense undercoat, which isn't a given with long-haired dogs. Ultimately, it's up to you to observe your dog and figure out what they need.
Other winter considerations for dogs
There's more than just the cold to consider during the winter. While the days are short, it's more likely that you'll be walking your dog in low-light conditions. Choose a reflective vest or a light-up harness to make sure your dog is visible in the dark.
It might sound counterintuitive, but flat-faced dogs such as pugs are prone to heatstroke in the winter if they exercise vigorously outdoors then come into a warm home, so don't let them overdo it. Ice is slippery for dogs, so exercise caution when walking your dog in icy conditions.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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