During the winter season, many dogs feel the cold just like their owners do, especially when they are not used to the cold. Although some dogs have been bred to deal with the cold better than any human ever could. In order to keep your specific dog warm through the winter months it is important to think about their breed, age and their health, while also remembering that it’s worth your time to make sure your dog stays nice and warm all winter. So here are some practical ideas to consider if you think your dog may be getting cold during the day or night, and how to keep them warm…
1. Get your dog off the ground.
The ground can suck a lot of heat out of a dog so get them off the ground. This may be a simple dog bed, or even a wooden pallet with a good thick cover over the top.
2. Provide heating on cold nights. This is especially important for old dogs and dogs with arthritis.
Ensure your dog has plenty of warm bedding. Every dog’s bed should have enough blankets or covers to keep warm. These could be old sacks, hay, or soft luxury blankets! If you can afford it, wool blankets will keep much more heat than most. This could even be an old wool/cashmere sweater that you’re thinking of throwing away!
Consider using a heated dog mat or a hot water bottle. A hot water bottle can be tucked under your dog’s bed to warm it up quickly. When your dog realises how nice and snuggly a heated bed feels, they will accept it and even look forward to getting tucked in at night.
3. Keeping Older dogs, puppies and dogs with arthritis warm at night.
Older dogs in particular, stiffen up in the colder weather. Keeping heat in around their joints can give them great comfort. Again, simple things can help, such as placing a thick blanket over the dog once they have settled down for the night. There are a variety of pet electric blankets or heat mats available, and another type of mat to investigate is a whelping blanket. These are designed to keep young puppies warm and provide a gentle background level of heat which is safe to be laid on for long periods of time. Definitely put clothing on them when going on outdoor visits.
4. Dogs that sleep outside.
If your dog sleeps outside in a kennel you may consider covering the kennel with an old duvet and then throwing a tarpaulin over that, to help beef up the protection. Remember the more layers of insulation you add, the cozier the kennel will be. It also makes them feel warm and safe… Just think, if it’s not warm enough for you to spend the night in, then the kennel isn’t warm enough for your dog. In fact if it is an extra cold night bring your dog inside!
5. Wrap your dog up warm with dog clothing.
If you feel cold, chances are so does your dog. Put a coat or jumper on your dog when taking them out. Some dogs love them, some hate them…Even if you have tried one before it may be worth giving it a second go. So before putting your dog’s sweater on, put it in the dryer for about 10 minutes or on the radiator for a while. Use booties to protect your dog’s paws when walking on snow and salt. Salt serves as an irritant on dog paws and snow is very cold. Booties will keep the paws warm and free from salt irritation. However, unless you’ve trained your dog to accept booties from puppyhood, this can be a bit of battle with some dogs who won’t tolerate wearing them.
6. Take shorter walks during the winter months.
Keep all outdoor visits short during very cold temperatures. Don’t try to take your dog on the same length walks as you do during warmer weather. A shorter walk can still accomplish enough exercise and relief breaks without causing your dog (and you) to become too cold.
7. Ensure that your dog is groomed well.
Avoid trimming, shaving or cutting your dog’s hair in the winter months because your dog’s full weight coat keeps him warm during winter. It is important to maintain a good grooming regime, combing out knots and brushing the coat thoroughly, through winter too, as matted hair is less efficient at keeping out the cold, snow and cold rain, and does not insulate the dog as well. Consistent grooming can also alleviate dander problems in dogs living through dry winters.
I hope that these handy tips will help you look after your dogs and love your dogs even more than you do this winter…
Stay warm everyone!