10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm In Cold Weather
There are breeds of dogs that are built for cold weather. They have a thick and dense coat that feels more like a parka to keep them warm and cozy. Unfortunately, not all pet canines have such coats. They can suffer from low body temperatures that can slow down different organ system functions. Dogs, regardless of their coat type, are also susceptible to frozen skin or frostbite. The good news is that there are ways to protect your hound from the bitter cold. Here are 10 helpful ways to keep your beloved canine friend warm during cold days and nights.
Limit the Time Your Dog Spends Outdoors
The toughest working dogs of the Arctic never stay outdoors 24/7. Sure, they may still be outdoors, but they will also be seeking a temporary shelter for them to feel and stay warm. So, they head into caves or hide under thick bushes. We are already talking about the most cold-resistant breeds on the planet. If these dogs still need warmth amidst a snow-covered environment, what more for ordinary domesticated dogs?
Dogs may have fur but there are parts of their body that don’t have it. For instance, their nose and paw pads are always exposed to the elements. These are very prone to the development of frostbite, which can be uncomfortable if not painful for the dog. The point is that no dog should ever stay in the cold outdoors for long periods of time.
Limiting the amount of time that your dog spends in a cold environment is one of the best ways you can keep your pet warm. The longer that it stays outside a warm enclosure, the greater is the risk of lowering its body temperature and developing frostbite.
Dress Your Pet in Warm and Comfortable Wear
Adding an extra layer of protection over their bodies is also a great way to keep your hound warm on a cold day. It is the same as humans. If we can feel the bitter cold whenever we go outside, then your dog feels it, too. As such, if you wear your jacket whenever you head outdoors, don’t you think your pet deserves a warm jacket of its own?
There are many doggie apparels available at pet shops today. They come in various designs, colors, and patterns. There are those that resemble a thick parka for your hairless breed. There are also “warm” doggie clothing that look like a sweater. Everything depends on the ambient temperature in your location. If it is chilly, then a sweater should be enough. But if we’re talking about severe cold weather conditions, then a thicker doggie apparel is a must. On second thought, it’s best to stay indoors if there’s a blizzard going on.
Whatever type of apparel you choose for your dog, make sure that it’s the correct fit. Using only pet-safe materials is also crucial.
Clean its Paws Right After an Outdoor Activity
One of the reasons even Arctic dogs seek shelter from the cold is that there are parts of their body that don’t have fur. One of these is their paws. Like human feet, a dog’s paws get the most abuse every time it moves. Your dog may not walk over ice. However, the ground that it walks on can have de-icing chemicals, road salt, and antifreeze.
These chemicals can get stuck in the animal’s paws. These may not result in frostbite, but they can pose a serious health concern. Dogs can lick their paws and with it these chemicals. Many of these are toxic to pets. Antifreeze, for example, has a peculiar sweet taste that pets love to lick. Unfortunately, it is also toxic and can lead to a host of gastrointestinal problems in the dog. In some cases, it can be fatal, too.
That’s why it is important to wash, clean, and dry your pet’s paws the moment it enters your house. Not only do you not want it to track these chemicals onto your floor, you also don’t want your pet licking these chemicals.
Provide Your Dog with a Heated Pad
Nesting dog beds can provide adequate protection for your pet against the cold. Its high sides can also prevent cold drafts from disturbing your pet’s sleep. However, there are instances where the ambient temperature is too low for these types of canine beds to manage. There are also dogs that may not be able to regulate their body temperatures in an efficient manner.
In these situations, having a heated pad should be very handy. These contraptions can provide artificial warmth to your dog. However, one has to observe a few safety precautions since these contraptions run on electricity. Make sure that the product you buy has passed all the necessary safety inspections and certifications. You may be able to warm your dog but can expose it to other dangers if you choose the wrong product.
There are heated dog pads that are perfect for the outdoors. They can warm up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit without causing a significant burden on your electric bill. If you have a heavy chewer, you will need a heated dog bed with more heavy-duty construction. Unfortunately, these often come at a premium price.
Improve the Thermal Insulation of the Doghouse’s Floor
If Fido lives in a doghouse, it’s important to consider providing warmth on its sleeping surface. One of the easiest ways to do this is by putting a layer or two of old carpet on the floor of the doghouse. Sew a Velcro strip on the edges of the carpet and mount the same on the floor. This will help prevent the carpet from moving about when your dog stirs. An alternative solution is to nail the edges to the floor for a more permanent fix.
An alternative to carpet is straw. It is inexpensive and you can have it replaced or topped off as frequently as you want. Straw will also not freeze or stay wet. However, you should be cautious in putting straw that may contain particles that can get trapped in the animal’s coat. Leaves, seeds, and other debris may be present in these materials.
If you have an extra blanket at home, you can use this, too. The problem with this, of course, is that it can stay wet or freeze. Hence, you have to check it every now and then.
Insulate Your Pet’s Doghouse
Outdoor doghouses should always have the correct insulation. There are doghouses that have built-in heating and air conditioning systems. These are expensive contraptions that can set you back for at least $500. But the good point is that they can provide excellent temperature regulation for your dog all year round.
If you’re not ready to make a huge investment, adding an incandescent bulb inside the doghouse should be enough to provide warmth in cold weather. Adding thick insulating materials to the walls, floor, and ceiling of the doghouse can also help.
There are also portable heaters that you can get for a hundred dollars or so. Install this gadget in the doghouse to help keep Fido warm.
Let Your Dog Stay in a Smaller Doghouse
We always say that a dog should have a comfortable living space. The larger the living space, the better it is for your dog. However, during the cold months, a large living space does not often translate to more efficient warming.
The idea here is that there is more cool air in a larger space than in a small room. Because of this, the dog will not be able to generate enough body heat to negate the amount of cold air inside the doghouse.
Making its living space smaller can help the dog conserve more of its body heat than giving it off into the environment. If the doghouse is large, one can always put a divider inside to make a smaller living space. And while you’re at it, also consider putting a flap on the door of the doghouse.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
On hot days, we always tell our dog-loving friends never to leave their hounds in their respective vehicles. A few minutes under the hot sun can turn any vehicle into a very hot furnace. Some pet parents may not think that their dog will not have any issues inside the vehicle on cold days. Don’t tempt fate. It can be as dangerous as leaving your dog in the car on a scorching-hot day.
A few minutes in the car can still be dangerous for your pet. If not, they will still feel very uncomfortable. A dog that feels uncomfortable will not hide its anxiety. If you have to leave the dog in your car, make sure that it has someone else to stay with it.
A better idea will be to leave your dog at home. Getting out and in your car can still expose it to cold temperatures no matter how brief it can be. It’s good if you have an Arctic breed. But if you have a Chinese Crested or a shorthaired Chihuahua, then exposure to the cold can have its dangers.
Keep Your Pet Hydrated and Well-Fed
We know that hydration is very important in hot weather because of the danger of overheating, heat stroke, and dehydration. Most pet parents won’t think that dogs also need adequate hydration in cold weather. One has to realize that the air doesn’t contain much moisture when it’s cold. This can also lead to a host of problems like dry skin and mucus membranes. Giving your dog access to fresh drinking water can help prevent such issues.
Increasing the dog’s fat and protein intake in the cold months can also help keep your pet protected from the freezing temperatures. Although a dog’s thick fur is what protects it from the bitter cold, fat can also play a role in insulating the body against temperature extremes. There are marine mammals that have a thick layer of blubber or fat under their skin, keeping them warm. Many animals in frigid regions also have a greater proportion of body fat to lean muscle mass.
It is often wise to replace your dog’s ordinary food with one that’s high in protein and fat. Fat is also an excellent source of concentrated energy. When exposed to cold temperatures, dogs will have to work hard to generate heat. In doing so, they will need more calories. Carbohydrates provide energy, too, but they don’t last that long. Energy from fat and protein last longer, allowing the dog to feel warmer.
Know the Warning Signs of Frostbite and Hypothermia
Knowing the warning signs of hypothermia should help you institute more appropriate measures. One of the warning signs that you should look out for is when you observe the animal becoming anxious. If you notice that your pet is whining for no apparent reason, it can be a warning sign, too. Other dogs cannot stop shivering as a means to generate heat. Some may look so weak or have very sluggish movements.
There are also dogs that will look for warm places where they can burrow. A few dogs may have visible signs of ice on their body. If you see any of these manifestations, it is best to bring your dog indoors. Get several pieces of thick blanket and wrap these on the dog’s body. Make sure to call your veterinarian to ask for additional instructions. More often than not, he may want to see your pet so he can provide it with a more definitive treatment.
Frostbite may take longer to develop, however. As such, it is best to assess your dog every time it comes in the house. Check for pale or painful areas. These are often indications of a beginning frostbite.
Keeping your dog warm and safe in cold weather is crucial to maintaining their optimum health and wellbeing. Observing these 10 ways can ensure your dog leads a happy and healthy life despite the bitter cold.