I always wondered if dogs can keep themselves warm in winter, and how cold is too cold for them. It turns out the answer is dependent on your breed. Some dog breeds, like chihuahua and xoloitzcuintle, have only a thin layer of hair and thus cannot effectively keep themselves warm. They belong to the desert breeds and are not biologically structured to live in the snow. I personally owned a xoloitzcuintle, his name’s Xola, and from this experience, I learned that dogs need as much care against the cold very much like us humans.
There are 22 ways that I personally used and practise with Xola and whose efficacy I can vouch for. They are
- Self Warming Dog Bed Or Pad
- Covered Dog Beds
- Dog Sweaters
- Dog Harnesses With Pockets For Heat Pack
- Dog Coats
- Dog Snowsuit
- Keep Paws Clean And Dry
- Provide More Food For Dog
- Dog Boots
- Paw Wax Or Paw Balm
- Dog Snood
- Go Outdoors Only When There Is Sun
- Indoor Potty Patches
- Reduce Time Outside
- Leash Your Dog At All Times
- Insulate Outdoor Kennels
- Heated Water Bowl
- Observe Your Dog
- Never Leave Dogs In Car
I will talk about each of them and highlight the things to look out for when deploying any of these methods. Some of them are products that can help your dog combat the cold, while others are practices that you should uphold to ensure your dog is well taken care of in harsh winter conditions.
The most basic method of all is to get a blanket to cover your dog. It is the practice for us humans as well. I would suggest getting multiple blankets made of thin but insulative materials, so that you can control how many layers of blanket to cover your dogs with for different extents of frostiness. In this way, you can have more granular control over how much warmth to give your dog with the blankets and not overdo it with just a single thick blanket. It is not cool to be sweating in bed on a winter night.
Get the Comsmart Warm Fleece Pet Blankets pack of 6. This is going to be the best deal you can get for pet blankets. It is very likely the cheapest you can find for a half a dozen sheets of fleece blankets that are neither too thick nor thin, perfect for the method that I mentioned. They come in different sizes as well for dogs of all breeds.
Self Warming Dog Bed Or Pad
A self warming dog bed, like the AmazonBasics Warming Pet Bed, does not require electricity to maintain the warmth in the bed. It utilizes material science to retain your dogs’ warmth and thus creating a bed that can stay warm. Its dimension also fits a typical car seat, making it a very ideal choice for traveling as well.
If you are looking for a pad to keep your dogs warm in their crates, there are also self warming crate pads sold on Amazon. The K&H Pet Products Self-Warming Crate Pad. Again, they do not require external electricity sources to keep itself warm, relying on your dog’s own body warmth to maintain a self sustaining heating system. They come in various sizes to fit different combinations of dog crate dimensions too.
Covered Dog Beds
These dog beds provide a roof over the dogs’ head. They have walls made of insulated materials to block the wind and keep the interior warm efficiently. The Igloo Dog House from Petmate, although expensive, is a very good product in this category. It is not only usable for cold weather, it is also suitable for hot weather by regulating a desirable temperature, thus justifying their price tag. It is heavy duty and can be placed outdoors without any fear of damage by the wind or rain. Its roof contains vents as well to ventilate the sleeping space properly and guarantee a good night’s sleep for your dog.
The only thing I do not like about this is its size. It is not portable to bring around during my travels with my dogs. You may want to look for alternatives if traveling with your dog bed is a requirement for you.
Dog sweaters is another accessory that you can consider to keep your dogs warm. These sweaters are usually knitted using materials like wool or fleece that are natural insulators against heat loss and are often used in winter clothing. They usually cover the core of your dog’s body to maintain the thermostat of it, hence ensuring a good distribution of the generated body heat throughout the body of the dog.
The Chilly Dog Boyfriend Dog Sweater is extremely value for money as it covers bulk of the dogs’ body to retain heat within its core extensively, instead of just the upper body like many other brands. It is also smartly designed to not cover the underside of the dog’s belly so that it does not get in the way of your dogs when they answer the calls of nature.
Another hack to keep your dog warm is to get a dog backpack that has pockets to put heat packs inside them. The heat pack generates heat upon triggering some mechanism by some chemistry magic between the constituents in the content of the pack, hence keeping your dogs warm.
Get the OneTigris Dog Pack Hound Travel Backpack for this hack as it is made of cotton, which can effectively trap heat within its material. This traps heat within the backpack, hence protracting the duration of heat production even long after the heat pack has been exhausted of its lifespan.
Dog coats are the winter jackets for dogs. They cover the core of the dog’s body as well as the upper limbs with thick materials that can keep your dogs warm.
I personally recommend JoyDaog 2 Layers Fleece Coat as it is made of 2 layers of fleece instead of 1, hence achieving insulation to a great extent. This coat is also buttoned instead of zipped, a small little feature that can bring so much convenience to your life, especially if you owe a furry breed and the chances of the fur getting stuck in the zip is high. I hate it when my fingers have to suffer in the cold to troubleshoot the zip when it gets stuck with the fur or the material of the coat.
Frankly speaking, I never know dog snowsuit was a thing. This is probably for those dogs on the extreme end of the spectrum of dog breeds that cannot handle the cold living or traveling to places of extreme cold. The dog snowsuit is made of insulative materials that covers their limbs all the way to the paws, giving your dog the best armor against the cold.
The DogHelios ‘Thunder-Crackle’ Full-Body Pet Dog Coat is what I will recommend. It is one of the snowsuit that is ergonomically and practically designed for dogs to answer the call of nature while keeping themselves warm. Its portion on the underside of the belly area is not covered so that the dog can conveniently do their business and still be able to keep themselves warm.
However, note that it might be difficult to find the exact size to fit your dog, especially if your dog is a puppy and is still growing.
Keep Paws Clean And Dry
When dogs move around, their paws become moist and wet, making those areas more susceptible to the cold. It is thus important to make sure you keep their paws dry and clean once they come indoors.
Take special care for furry dogs as their long furs near their paws may trap some volume of water that can become ice and speed up the loss of heat from one of the most vulnerable parts of your dog. Make sure to remove them immediately if you see them, even when you are outdoors and it can these ice formations can still happen.
Provide More Food For Dog
When it is cold, humans and dogs’ bodies react by contracting muscles, and too much of which will cause what we come to understand as shivering. The science behind it is that shivering will generate heat to keep the body warm when it deems that it is too cold in comparison to the internal thermostat of the body. Shivering requires energy and thus burns calories from your dogs. This will make the dogs more hungry and increase their food intake requirements.
Hence, you should not devoid your dogs of their ammunition to fight against the cold. Provide more food during the cold months, but take care not to overfeed them.
As mentioned, the paws are the most vulnerable part of the dogs’ body to the cold as they are in contact with the chilly ice or snow on the ground. Hence, I recommend investing in a dog boots for your dogs. It provides adequate protection for their paws, and can also be used for hiking adventures as well during the summer.
The QUMY Waterproof Dog Boots would definitely be the best buy in this category. It is waterproof to prevent ice water from seeping in and freezing your dogs’ paws, and it can also be used for hikes during other seasons of the year, instead of being kept as a white elephant somewhere in the wardrobe. Its bottom is made of thick quality rubber that is anti-slip. These waterproof boots are also ideal for all-terrain hiking and camping, making it a very worthwhile purchase. Read more about what other previous customers have to say about this Amazon’s Choice.
Paw Wax Or Paw Balm
Some dogs might not like the idea of wearing boots. If your dog happen possess such a needy behavior, you can consider a paw wax instead of the dog boots.
The Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax can protect your dog from all kinds of irritation other than ice. It can protect the paws on a day trip to the sandy beaches, as well as a walk on the hot pavement on a summer day. It will harden soon after being applied topically to the dogs’ paws. It thus forms an invisible layer of protection likened to a dog boots but without the discomfort of it.
For dogs with long necks, consider getting a dog snood. It has a substantial effect on these types of dogs as their necks have a larger surface area that is being exposed to the cold. They have a greater portion of their neck being further away from the core of their body where the bulk of the body heat is generated. Hence their neck becomes one of the body parts that are more vulnerable. In this case, a dog snood will be helpful.
Transform your pooch into an adorable dinosaur with the Zoo Snoods Dinosaur Dog. It is the Amazon’s Choice for dog snoods and is not only affordable but also functional. It is knitted with a material that is elastic, so that you can pull to put it over your dog’s neck, and when you let it loose, it will wrap around your dog’s neck comfortably but firmly. There are also different sizes to fit different dog breeds. As a tip, try no to buy too big a size or else it will slip easily and defeat its purpose of being worn in the first place.
Contrary to popular assumptions, grooming your dogs during winter is equally as important during winter. Grooming does not only consist of trimming and cutting your dog’s fur, it also consists of regular cleaning.
It is important to bathe your dog during winter regularly because if their fur gets wet, it will take forever to dry. It creates a moist environment in their fur, and together with the heat generated from their body that is trapped in the fur, it presents the most conducive of environments for germs to thrive. This may lead to undesirable skin diseases or fleas infestation.
While it is logical to think that you do not need to trim your dog’s fur during winter because it is what keeps your dog warm in the cold, you might miss out on this seemingly negligible yet vital exception. That is the fur around your dog’s paw. As mentioned in the section on dog boots, the long fur around the paws of your dog can trap water readily, causing your dog’s paws to become unnecessarily colder. It is just like keeping your hands during winter and that can easily damage the living cells in the limbs.
Go Outdoors Only When There Is Sun
When I am outdoors during winter, I tend to look forward to those spots where the sun rays could reach, very much the opposite during summer when the search for shady areas is relentless. These sunny spots provide some much needed pit stops of warmth for me in the cold.
This is the same for my dogs. We tend to mutually slow down our pace when we are in these areas and it is quite comical. Dogs do prefer the sun when it is winter, so do avoid going outdoors unless the sun is up.
Indoor Potty Patches
Consider purchasing potty patches meant for dogs to answer the call of nature so that they do not have to go outdoors. I am sure I am not the only one who hates to go outside during winter to pee in the middle of the night when I am out camping. Dogs feel very much the same.
If you do care for your dogs, have an extra budget, and willing to go the extra mile to clean up their businesses indoors, get a MTBRO Artificial Grass Mat. It is the Amazon’s Choice for potty patches for dogs. It can be installed in all kinds of places, regardless of wet or dry, hot or cold. It contains drainage holes instead of trapping the urine, hence making it effortless to clean and remove any lingering urine odor. It can be easily cut to fit your needs and dimension requirements as well.
Reduce Time Outside
Next is to reduce the time spent outdoors with your dog. If you note that your dogs start to shiver and gradually show less excitement, it means it is hitting its limit soon and you should start heading back home.
Leash Your Dog At All Times
During winter, it is important the you leash your dogs at all time. It is not a laughing matter if your dogs decide to run off in the snow and enter dangerous territory. They may injure themselves from slipping on the ice, which eventually will hurt your heart and your wallet. Or they fall into a deep layer of snow or, worse, into a frozen lake or pond and suffer from hypothermia which can be life-threatening or detrimental to the health in the long run.
Better be safe than sorry. Cut back on some of their freedom during the winter for their sake.
Insulate Outdoor Kennels
If your dog sleeps in a kennel outdoors, you can consider insulating it. If you have experience in carpenting, you can create your own dog kennel made of wood. Wood is a natural heat insulator. It reduces the rate at which heat travels within itself, hence, for the case of winter, prevents heat from escaping the interior of the kennel quickly, hence maintaining a favorable environment for a good night’s sleep for your dog.
A quick tip: make sure the floor of the kennel is sufficiently thick as that is the main channel where the heat will escape from. A good thickness would be in the north of 4 inches.
Another alternative is to use the Reflectix BP48010 Insulation Pack. It is the Amazon’s Choice for insulated materials with numerous positive feedbacks to back its credentials as an effective insulator. Wrap it around or attach it on top of your dogs kennel to give it that extra padding to stay warm.
Some sites recommend using an insulated dog kennel cover, but from my experience, it is not always easy to get a cover that fit the shape of your kennel, unless it is a cube. So I would suggest placing your bet somewhere else.
Heated Water Bowl
It does not make sense to ingest something cold when your are trying to stay warm. This applies to dogs too, particularly when drinking water. Keep the water in the dog water bowl warm by getting a heated water bowl. It prevents your dog from drinking cold water when it is thirsty, or finding other sources of warmer water from unclean sources.
I would suggest getting the K&H Pet Products Thermal-Bowl to ensure a comfortable drinking water supply during the winter season. This heated dog water bowl safely seals the electronics to prevent any unfortunate cases of electrocution from happening. It is sturdy and simple to operate. It keeps the water warm enough for a pleasant drinking experience. It is also extremely energy efficient, a critical aspect since you will be leaving it on for long durations. No wonder it is the Amazon’s Choice in this category.
Observe Your Dog
Owning a dog is very much similar to having a kid, especially during their infant years. They cannot speak and communicate with us in our language, hence the responsibilities lie upon us to keep a close watch on them and make sure their needs are met and fulfilled. Most of the time it involves observing similar patterns of distress and hypothesizing the problem to ascertain the best way to solve the situation. And after multiple failed attempt as deciphering their behaviors, frustration will grow. In fact, I think it is more difficult as dogs cannot speak for the entirety of their lives. That is why pet parent is a thing.
However, this is going to be part of life. We signed up for this. The key thing to make the task easier is to know particular behaviors to keep an eye out for. These are the telltale signs that your dog might be suffering from the cold in silence.
- Looking for places that the sunlight reaches
- Moving slowly
When your dog is showing such behaviors during winter, it might be a signal that you should start giving them more accessories to keep them warmth.
Sometimes, your dogs are not well adapted to the cold, but keeping them indoors and restricting them in their activities is not exactly healthy for them. Dogs, afterall, are hyper creatures and we should look for ways to keep them active. In that case, you can try out canine therapy.
Your dogs can still get their dose of fun and exercise by wading in a pool of warm water that is artificially kept at room temperature during winter. There is no need to worry about the cold in this way. This is especially helpful for senior dogs with joint problems and thus more vulnerable to the cold.
Never Leave Dogs In Car
This is strictly discouraged, whether it is during winter or not. In the case of winter, the car can cool down very quickly, shutting your dogs in an enclosed cold environment that can be very dangerous. This is especially the case when the car was initially warm, leaving your dogs without any winter accessories to battle the plunge in temperature.