Winter can be just as difficult on our dogs as it can be for us, especially in the parts of the country where the weather is cold, icy, or snowy. Some dogs are better adjusted to cold weather, like double-coated breeds, but considerations should be made for all canines during the winter weather.
Ideally, when the weather becomes bitter cold and intolerant for us, outdoor dogs should be brought indoors or at least into a more sheltered location like a garage. Dogs can suffer from frostbite just like us, especially on ear tips, noses, and feet. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for the dog.
Some dogs are better suited for cold weather and will be more tolerant of it. Arctic breeds like Malamutes and Siberian Huskies originated in very cold climates and lived exclusively outdoors, so their coat is made to withstand lower temperatures.
Dogs with short, non-double coats should not ever be forced to stay outdoors. They will quickly chill in the temperatures.
If you have an outdoor dog, there are certain provisions that must be in place:
- An insulated dog house with lots and lots of straw. Straw is a good insulator but must be replenished as it compacts. A sheltered location with no wind is best.
- Water that does not freeze. Try to use a water heater to keep water both warm and not frozen.
- Provide additional food throughout the winter. The shivering a dog does during winter will use extra calories, and dogs can lose weight during the winter.
- If the temperature drops below freezing and is bitter cold, please consider bringing the dog indoors.
It might seem like a dog would be perfectly warm indoors, but even these dogs can use extra provisions to stay warm. Very small toy-sized dogs and dogs with thin coats all chill quickly, especially if a home is drafty.
Before winter comes, check your home for drafts and properly seal windows and doors. Not only will this save you money and make your home more energy efficient, it will also help keep your pooch warmer.
A few considerations for keeping your indoor dog warm:
- Have several dog beds available in various locations. Try to position one in a location where sun comes through a window and shines in. Dogs love sunshine! Also, pet beds that are extra fluffy and allow the dog to burrow inside are perfect. Some can be electrically heated or have a warm insert added, which might be perfect for elderly dogs.
- Have a few sweaters and fleece coats on hand for outdoor trips. Middle-age and older dogs often like to wear the sweater around the house too. This is the best way to keep a short coated dog or very tiny dog warm.
- Avoid baths in the winter. Dogs don’t need bathed as frequently as we tend to, and the winter is the worst time of the year to bathe your dog. If you must ‘bathe’ your dog, try waterless shampoos.
Luckily, winter only lasts a few months, and with a few extra measures, all dogs can and should be staying warmer.