The temperatures are getting lower and despite the current concern about energy bills, some of us are starting to turn the heating on! When we aren’t doing that, we are considering thicker clothes or blankets. Winter is most definitely here!
It’s quite an easy fix really, feel cold, turn up the heating. Job done. What about your pets though? How do they combat the cold? Well in many cases, they don’t. They rely on you, the owner to intervene and make them feel warm and comfortable.
Dogs are one such pet that needs a little help from us, as owners, to keep them feeling cosy when the temperature drops. It would be foolish on our part to think that the thick fur alone is enough to stave off the shivers and freezing temperatures.
So, with that in mind, we looked at how you can keep your dog warm this winter so that both you and your canine companion can enjoy the colder weather.
How do I know if my dog is cold?
Dogs can be quite vocal characters, when something isn’t quite how they like it, they will bark or behave in a way that you know requires attention. It’s working out what they want that can be the tricky thing!
When it comes to feeling cold they will exhibit certain characteristics and it is these that will mean you need to take action.
If the winter weather has hit and you see your dog doing any of the following, it means they aren’t warm enough.
- Shivering or trembling
- Curling up into a ball
- Whining and barking
- Appearing weak or tired
In older dogs, the cold will affect their joints so you may see stiffness as they move about.
As a guide, if the temperature is down to 32°F it is likely too cold. Especially for smaller short-hair dogs.
How to keep dogs warm in winter
Trying to warm your dog up when they show any of the signs we mentioned above can be a challenge, but it can also be fun too. When indoors, for example, engaging in some fun games can get the blood pumping and have your dog warmed up in no time at all. Plus, it is a great piece of exercise if you are limiting outdoor walk times during the colder weather.
Keeping your dog warm indoors
Along with playing games, there are a few other things you can do that will help your dog fight the freeze.
Keep them dry to ensure they do not get a cold or fever. If you have been outside, dry them off as soon as you get inside. If you have chosen to give your dog a bath, do the same. Perhaps even bathe them less frequently.
Let their hair grow, long hair dogs will stay warmer than short hair dogs but they all feel warmer thanks to their fur. Let it grow over winter months and they will reap the rewards of a nice thick coat. The growth of fur on short hair dogs is not substantial so a cute dog coat will double up as an additional layer of fur!
Extra blankets in the dog bed may also be worth investing in. A dog bed is typically quite warm and snug but with the lower temperatures, a blanket over the top will help shield them from the colder air. With this in mind, it may also be worth reconsidering where the dog bed currently resides. Move it away from doors and windows. A consistent draft will likely lead to a cold dog! Elevating the dog bed off the floor will also help keep them warmer.
Keeping your dog warm outside
There will be times when you want to take your dog outside for walks. The important thing here is not to be selfish. You may enjoy the brisk winter mornings and the chilly afternoons, but your four-legged friend may not. You should limit their exposure to colder weather.
Chemicals used to break down ice or snow can damage the paws of your dog but can also lead to illness should your pet lick its paws when you get home. Therefore, be aware of where you are walking and put safety first.
Invest in a fleece-lined jacket to help keep the cold out and keep the warm in. For some dogs, this could be a new experience so they may resist at first, train them by trying it indoors a few times before your first winter walk outdoors.
A lead may not keep them warm but when the snow has settled or the ice has frozen over deep puddles, the risk to your dog increases somewhat. Keeping them close averts the potential hazard of running into deep snow or falling through thin ice which will lead to accidents, illness or possible fatalities.
You can also invest in mini boots for your dog. These can be a little trickier to put on and could well be rejected every time you try to use them. The benefit can be huge though as the paws will stay warm and avoid picking up any potentially damaging debris as well as avoiding contacting the anti-freeze and other products that may be on the outside surfaces.
What can I use to keep my dog warm this winter?
Aside from following a few simple steps, there are a few additional items you can use to keep your dog feeling more comfortable when it gets cold.
Heating pads can be useful, especially for older dogs. They can help circulation, and injury recovery and help keep dogs warm where they can’t maintain a suitable body temperature. Always ensure the heat pad is dog safe as there is a multitude of options available for all types of pets.
Heated toys are a novel way to keep a dog warm, perhaps the heated pad in the bed is too warm for them or they are just wanting to play. The toys contain a heating pad that you can make warm in your microwave, you then place the pad inside the toy. These have been seen as particularly beneficial to puppies and dogs that may feel a little anxious.
Snoods can be useful, especially when you have a dog with a long neck. A greyhound perhaps. They will keep this thin and muscular part of the dog warm when you are out and about. They can also be used when your dog is indoors too.
Of course, the list is not exhaustive, there will always be new products coming to market and experts discovering new methods that help keep your dog warm. Hopefully, our guide will help you and your dog enjoy winter a little more this year.
If cold weather is not for you and you think you and your dog should get away for winter, speak to us! We are experts in organising dog travel across the globe meaning your pet can bask in the sunshine should the winter weather not be their preference. We can even help you with your dog passport should you need one! Contact us today and see how easy it is to organise taking your dog abroad.