Every year, huskies and other heavy-coated breeds flaunt their love of the snow with playful romps in icy cold conditions. Not all breeds share that adoration of the frigid winter weather, however, resulting in the need for a little extra support staying warm and cozy. So, as the temps drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time for pet parents to get ready to help their dogs avoid getting too cold during their wintertime adventures. Here’s how.
How to Know Your Dog Needs Help Keeping Warm
If your dog doesn’t favor winter weather, you’ll likely spot their displeasure as they shiver and try to get back inside fast. You’ll then need to abort your plans and try again after getting better prepared for the cold.
To avoid that, you can often predict how they’ll fare by looking at their breed, age, and other factors. Short-coated breeds, like boxers, French bulldogs, and chihuahuas, all get cold much faster than their double-coated counterparts for example. The size of the dog matters, too, since small breeds and puppies have much less insulation to keep them warm.
As dogs reach their senior years, their tolerance for the cold decreases, especially when arthritis starts to set in. Dogs who are feeling a bit under the weather might need extra support staying warm and cozy as well.
Best Ways to Bundle Up Your Dog Before Going Out
If your dog doesn’t handle the cold well, then it’s wise to bundle them up before going out. At the very least, aim to cover their ears and paws to minimize the loss of body heat. A knitted snood works great to protect the ears, for example, while boots keep them from touching the cold ground. As an added benefit, boots keep your dog’s paws from coming into contact with salt and other deicers.
For even more protection, you can go with a hoodie, basic dog jacket, or full pullover winter coat. You will need to gauge your dog’s reaction to decide what winter wear to use most often. Try the items on your dog while inside the house to check the fit. Make sure you can get two fingers between the fabric for a fit that feels comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement.
After that, take your dog out into the yard to see if they stay warm enough. Stay out for about 10 minutes while watching your dog for signs of being cold, like shivering, cowering, or looking plain stressed out. If all seems fine after that, you can head out on your wintertime adventures with confidence that your pup will stay plenty warm along the way.
Tips for Keeping Your Dog Warm and Cozy at Home
Many dogs appreciate a bedding upgrade during the winter season. If your thick-coated dog typically loves to lie on the cold tile, they may want a blanket to go over it as temperatures start to fall.
Dogs with a low tolerance for the cold, on the other hand, likely need a bit more than that to stay warm enough to doze off in pure comfort. So, go with a thick dog mattress or raised cot with a warm blanket on top to keep them feeling cozy.
If that’s not enough, you can go with a heated dog bed instead. Self-warming pet pads are the safest option if you cannot directly supervise the use of the heated blanket. Otherwise, you could give them a microwaveable heat pad or a plug-in heated bed.
Additional Winter Safety Tips to Remember
Here are a few things to remember as you get ready for wintertime fun with your dog.
Limit Time Outside
Even breeds with thick double coats can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia after long periods of cold weather exposure. You can minimize the risks by limiting their time outside – even if that means using a tasty dog treat to bribe them to come back inside.
Check Their Extremities
Whenever your dog comes in from the cold, check their extremities for signs of frostbite and other cold injuries. Start with their paws by looking for any swelling, redness, and other issues. Then, look over their ears and the tip of their tail. If you notice any problems, report the problem to a vet right away.
Don’t Let Dogs Stay in the Car
Cold weather causes the temperature inside vehicles to drop fast, resulting in a potentially dangerous situation for any dogs locked inside. So, let your dogs stay at home whenever you need to run errands instead of having them wait in the car for you.
As wintertime comes and goes, remember that your dog’s tolerance for cold conditions may change. But as long as you’re willing to adjust your approach, you can keep your dog feeling warm and cozy every winter season from puppyhood through the senior years.
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