Canine CareDog ActivitiesHealthPlaytimeWalking

Best Way to Keep Dogs Warm Outside [Preparing for the Winter Season]

The winter season is just around the corner. As the year-end holidays approach, the temperature drops and the snow falls. While you might be overwhelmed by the Yuletide season, you should never forget to keep your dog cozy and toasty during the cold months. In this post, we discussed the best way to keep dogs warm outside, how you can protect them from the snow, and other winter tips to keep your Fido safe.

What is ‘too cold’ for a dog?

Most dogs bred for pulling sleds and retrieving fowls on ice have thick and double coats. This gives them an additional shield against the very low temperature. Some of these breeds are Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, Bernese Mountain Dog, and more,

 However, some breeds are less tolerant of extreme temperatures as they have thinner furs. Some of these canines are Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, Bulldogs, and so on. These canines need an extra layer of protection from the cold so they can still enjoy the snowy season.

So what is considered ‘too cold’ for a dog?

It actually depends on the breed and tolerance level of the canine. Like humans, some dogs will feel chilly with a cool breeze while others can stay warm even if they run around the snow.

Also, you have to consider your dog’s age, health condition, and acclimation. A typical dog will take up to two months to adjust completely in icy weather.

Aside from the air temperature, you should also factor in the wind and wet factor that will cause the temperature to drop further.

best way to keep dogs warm outside

Is my dog cold? How to tell?

It’s quite easy to spot a dog that’s in extreme cold. Shivering, curling up, and reluctance to get out of the kennel are just some of the signs that your pooch can’t tolerate the outdoor cold.

As much as you can take your doggo indoors, it would be challenging if you have a giant breed, say a Bernese Mountain Dog. Nevertheless, it’s cruel to leave a dog shivering in the cold just because they are outdoor dogs.

Before the winter season, plan out how you’re going to keep your pooch warm. Most likely, you’d have to take them indoors. For large breeds, your basement can come handy, but make sure that it’s well insulated and heated. A well-insulated dog house will also do.

Can my dog catch frostbite?

Yes, any living thing can catch frostbite if exposed to very low temperatures without any protection. Your dog may get frostbite if you leave them outdoors for too long or if you let the pooch stand on the watery snow for extended periods.

Frostbite occurs when the part of the body experiences poor circulation as the external cold freezes the body fluids. When frostbite occurs, the body tissues will experience permanent damage; some would even require amputation to remove the frost-bitten body part.

Usually, frostbite occurs on the fingers and feet. For dogs, their paws are exposed to the risk of this injury. Take note that frostbite is damaging and it could put your pet’s life at risk.

Nevertheless, a quick romp in the yard shouldn’t be dangerous as long as your dog wear some kind of protection from the snow. Still, you should always be watchful for early signs of frostbite so you can bring your pooch back home to stay warm.

How cold weather affects dogs

Dogs with arthritis will suffer more during the winter season. The cold temperature will cause their joints to ache more, which is why you should never bring an arthritic dog outdoors.

Aside from that, small dogs and puppies have a lower tolerance to the cold temperature. In fact, if the outdoor temperature is around 32F, small canines and those with thin coats should have limited access in an outdoor environment.

When the temperature reaches 20F, pet owners have to be very vigilant. If possible, avoid bringing small dogs outside at this temperature level. As much as some dogs are built for the harsh winter conditions, you should still be cautious.

In addition, you should factor in the wind chill. It’s the cold breeze that will make the outdoor temperature drop even more. For example, if the outdoor temp is 0F, and you have a wind of 20 mph, wind chill would be -22F. In just 30 minutes, your skin will freeze with this temperature. Just imagine its effects on a small dog.

Outdoor playtime is still possible!

However, even if it’s the winter season, you can still play with your dog outdoors. Large canines with double coats can play in the snow for a few minutes while smaller breeds can still enjoy a quick romp on the pavement with winter clothes on.

The key here is preparing your dog for the temperature drop and ensuring that they stay warm all the time. And if you notice any sign of shivering, retrieve your dog and bring it inside right away.

Also, we recommend that we come up with a warming spot for your dog. This way, they can relax and shake off the cold weather outside.

What’s the best way to keep dogs warm outside? 10 Useful Tips

If you’re looking for the best way to keep dogs warm outside, the following are some of the tips we recommend:

#1. Dress the part

Before you bring your dog outdoors, make sure that it’s wearing enough protection against the cold weather. First of all, get your dog used to wearing boots. It’s quite normal for canines to be unhappy and uncomfortable with booties on their paws. But with desensitization and some rewards, they can get used to it in a few weeks.

Make sure that you let your dog get used to walking with the boots on. That means you should do it before the snow falls. That way, their sensitive paws will be protected from the snow and salt.

Also, dog jackets are very helpful. This will help keep the warmth within their coats while others are heated or added comfort. And just like the boots, expect that your dog will hate it at first. Canines aren’t used to any sensation brought by clothing, but getting them used it should do the trick.

best way to keep dogs warm outside

#2. Don’t stay outside for too long

No matter how well-dressed your doggo is, it’s never ideal to let them play outside for extended periods. The cold temperature will still find its way on your dog’s skin, which will start the shivering. So when is the best time to go back inside? Make sure that you watch out for the following symptoms:

**Reluctance to move – If your doggo suddenly stops playing and starting to tap its feet, it’s time to go inside. 
**Excessive barking and whimpering – This is your dog’s way of telling you “let’s go back inside”.
**Seeking a hiding place – If your pooch retreats under the car or anywhere to seek shelter, it means that they are getting uncomfortable of the cold weather.
**Anxiety – Once your dog feels too cold, it may tuck its tail and show other signs of anxiousness. If your pooch turns around and tries to get into the door, let them in right away.

#3. Paw waxes will help

If it’s almost impossible to get your dog used to wear dog boots, you can apply a paw wax on their feet instead. This particular wax is made of essential oils and other organic ingredients that help nourish the paw pads of canines. Also, it prevents winter salt from damaging your dog’s paws while playing outdoors.

Moreover, paw waxes moisturize your dog’s paw pads to prevent cracking, both during summer and winter seasons. However, you should only apply a small amount at a time so that it won’t be a slipping hazard for your dog. Also, it’s best to let the paw pads absorb the wax first before going out in the snow.

 Also, choose an all-natural paw wax for your dog. This is safer, especially if your pooch has a history of allergies to various products.

We recommend the Musher’s Secret Paw Wax. It’s made of natural waxes that will protect your pooch’s paws from the harm of outdoor playtime. This works for all seasons, so your purchase will not go to waste. 

#4. Create an insulated dog house

For outside dogs that you really can’t bring in your home, give them proper shelter for the winter season. Make sure that you insulate it well against the intense outdoor temperature.

We recommend a dog house that’s at least 4 inches off the ground. Stuff straw beneath the dog house to prevent the cold temperature from emanating. After that, add a layer of straw at the floor of the dog house before you place comfy bedding. This should keep your pooch warm and you can also throw in a thick blanket where the doggo can curl up.

Moreover, the roof of your dog’s shelter should be sloped to allow the snow to fall off. A layer of insulation on the roof will also add more warmth to your dog.

Take note that only adult dogs should be allowed to stay in outdoor shelters. Puppies and small canines are better kept inside your heated home.

#5. Give them warm water

If the days are getting colder, you need to be more focused on keeping your dog cozy. Warm water helps keep your dog toasty during a blizzard. If the water tends to cool fast, you can purchase heated bowls, which you can give to your dogs that are staying outdoors.

If you’re looking for the best heated bowl, we recommend the K&H Pet Products Thermal Bowl. This is a 25-watt bowl with a 5’5” steel-wrapped cord so it will last long for outdoor use. Just make sure that you plug this safely. This will keep your dog’s water or food warm all the time.

Also: Check our flat-faced dog bowl selection here!

Also, it will help to feed your dog more during winter so its metabolism will remain active. This way, their body produces more heat that helps in fighting the cold. However, you should consult with a veterinarian first so your dog won’t become obese over the winter season.

#6. Watch out for the warning signs

Many dogs would love to go outdoors during winter to explore and play in the snow. However, this excitement can turn into anxiety when they can no longer tolerate the cold weather. If your dog shivers and becomes less interested to play, bring them inside and wrap them with a warm blanket.

Also, try to limit the outdoor playtime to 10 to 15 minutes during winter. You should also supervise your dog/s so you can get them back in the house when you notice signs of frostbite or hypothermia.

Remember that if it’s too cold for you, it’s also cold for your dog. Canines can’t wear thick layers of jackets, which is why they are exposed to the outdoor elements even more.

If the shivering or hypothermia persists, you should call a veterinarian right away. It’s essential to prevent this condition so it won’t take a fatal turn.

#7. Always use a leash

Many dogs love diving into thick layers of snow. But as much as this is safe for large canines, you should always supervise small dogs. Letting a Chihuahua dive into 5 inches of snow is dangerous. The pooch can’t get back up and if you don’t notice it, they will freeze in the cold and suffer hypothermia.

This is why leashing your dog outdoors during winter is advisable, especially if you’re walking them around the neighborhood. Take note that this is only applicable for medium to large canines. Small dogs and puppies should be kept at home as much as possible.

In addition, the combination of salt and snow can make the pavement slippery. Keeping your dog close to you will save them from sudden falls. It will also keep you from tumbling when you try to reach or run after your pet.

#8. Use elevated dog beds

If you don’t have an elevated dog house, you can purchase an elevated outdoor bed for your pet. This way, you can insulate them from the unforgiving temperature of snow. Also known as a dog cot, outdoor dog beds are made of plastic/steel frame with a waterproof fabric as the sleeping surface. This is quick-drying and best for canines with aggressive chewing habits.

You can place this cot inside the dog house and stuff the bottom and surface with straw just like what you did earlier.

For this one, we recommend the K&H Original Pet Cot. It has a waterproof 600D fabric and a plastic and steel frame that can take the beating of harsh outdoor elements. Moreover, it comes in different sizes to suit various dog breeds. You can also purchase the separate canopy for added protection for your pet. 

Take note that these dog cots are breathable so a layer of thick blanket should add warmth to your canine.

For indoor dogs, you can get a heated bed to help them snooze comfortably even in the middle of a blizzard.

#9. Wrap them with heated dog blankets

For dogs with very low tolerance to the cold weather, heated blankets come handy. You can let the pooch into your bed while you use a full-sized heating blanket. Nevertheless, you can make them comfy by wrapping them around heated pads used for back pain. This works well for puppies that are shivering in the cold.

Nevertheless, you should watch your dog while they enjoy the heated blanket. Since these products have electrical parts, the last thing you want to happen is getting your dog hurt or damaging the blanket itself.

Heated blankets are cozy, but some don’t find it a good purchase for dogs alone since it becomes useless after winter.

#10. Know your dog’s breed

Each dog breed will have different tolerance levels to cold temperatures. It’s important to know your dog first to understand what it needs during the winter season. Again, young and small dogs are less tolerant of intense temperatures, especially the cold.

Meanwhile, dogs bred for ice and sleds can spend more time outdoors even without wearing a dog jacket or boots.

Nevertheless, it pays to watch your dog while you bring them outside. Any adverse reaction to the cold weather should send both of you indoors.

Final words

The best way to keep dogs warm outside is to make sure that they have the right protection against the low temperature. You can put them on boots or jackets for added warmth while they play on the cold.

Also, you should know your dog well. This way, you’ll understand if they can endure cold weather like other double-coated breeds. As much as playing in the snow is fun, you should never leave a dog outdoors without any shelter. For canines kept as an outside dog, giving them proper shelter and warmth will allow them to get through winter. What do you think of our tips here? Has your dog experienced winter already? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!