Does your dog need extra care in the winter? The answer is yes, most dog breeds need winter dog care that is adjusted care to keep them safe and warm this winter.
Your dog might need more cuddles, a little more food, warm blankets, and other extra care in cold weather months.
We don’t want our canine best friend to get hypothermia, frostbite, injured paws, or be in distress, anxious or suffering because they’re uncomfortably cold.
Winter dog care is essential, and we sometimes forget that our furry friends can get cold just like us. So don’t assume their coat of fur will keep them warm in freezing temperatures. If it’s cold enough outside that you need to put on a warm jacket, your dog probably needs a doggie jumper or coat as well.
As the days get colder, it is important that you take care of your dog and ensure they aren’t getting too cold. Watch for signs your dog is getting too cold both at home, and out on walks.
Time Your Walks to the Warmest Hours of the Day and Dress Your Dog Appropriately
The warmest times of day tend to be midday or afternoon. Try to avoid walking your dog when it’s colder outside, such as the evening or early morning. We know your dog needs at least a couple walks per day, but just try to time those walks to warmer hours.
In the winter time, if you have a dog that is smaller, older, thinner, or is just not a cold-weather dog breed, what else can you do to keep them safe and warm on a winter walk? An important part of winter dog care is dressing your dog appropriately for the cold weather.
Get some waterproof dog booties to protect their paws, and make sure they have a jumper, jacket, or even a rain jacket if you have rainy winters (since getting soaked will only make them colder.)
You can even get doggie ear muffs to keep their ears warm while you’re outside in the cold. Dog’s ears are very susceptible to the cold.
While out on the walk, don’t let your dog drink from puddles formed by snow or rain, as this could cause them to get ill.
If it’s quite cold outside and you notice any signs your dog is getting too cold, just cut the walk shorter to play it safe.
Winter Dog Care: Watch For Signs Your Dog is Getting Too Cold
A good dog parent will be paying extra attention to their dog in the winter, watching for signs their dog is too cold and needs to be warmed up ASAP.
Below are some of the signs your dog is getting too cold:
- Whining or barking at you
- Anxious behavior where it’s clear they’re uncomfortable
- Shivering and shaking
- Ears pinned back, tail tucked, body hunched
- Walking very slowly and constantly lifting their little paws off the ground
- Trying to turn back to your home, or not wanting to walk anymore (when out on a walk)
- Curling up their body at home to try to get warm.
Keep Their Indoor Space Warm and Comforting, and Let Them Spend Most of Their Time Indoors
Keep your dog indoors in a warm spot. Ensure gaping windows aren’t left open when it’s freezing outside, and never leave your dog outdoors or in a car. That’s a big no-no.
Instead, have a warm, plush dog bed for them with plenty of thick, soft blankets they can curl up on.
As long as your home’s temperature is at a somewhat warm temperature, that should be fine. Don’t put a space heater or fireplace next to your dog, because these heat sources can be dangerous. Simply give them a warm indoor environment to hang out in with a warm bed, and ensure the bed is thick enough to be elevated off the cold floor.
In freezing temperatures, your dog should spend most of its time indoors, but don’t forget that your dog can still exercise indoors. You can play tug-of-war indoors, or fetch, or some other game that gets their heart rate up.
Your dog needs your attention, indoor games, and love in the winter to prevent getting bored.
Winter Dog Care Tips to Warm Up Your Dog After Being Out For a Walk in the Cold
Your dog does need extra care in the winter time, and part of this is knowing exactly how to warm them up once they get home from a walk in freezing temperatures.
My tips for warming a dog up quickly after they’ve been out in the cold include:
- Turn the heat up in your home a little before you leave (and close any open windows, so you come home to a warm space
- Dry off your dog’s paws and body with a dry towel as soon as you get in, and take off their jumper, especially if it’s wet.
- Put some of the blankets on your dog’s bed in the dryer before you leave for the walk, so that you can give your dog warm blankets fresh out of the dryer to snuggle up to warm up.
- Wrap your dog in a warm blanket and rub your hands on them to warm them up and show love.
- If your dog is a bit wet and shivering, as long as your dog is comfortable with hair dryers, you can use a hair dryer on a low heat setting to help dry them and warm the up with soothing gusts of warm air from the dryer.
Feed Your Dog a Little More Than Usual in the Winter, and Never Shave Your Dog in the Winter
You don’t need to dramatically overfeed your dog in the winter, as this could lead to obesity. However, many dog parents attest that feeding your dog a little extra food in the winter and giving them some extra fat or calories helps them stay warmer.
In addition to regular feedings in the winter, ensure they’re drinking enough water as well.
As far as grooming goes, don’t get your dog shaved or trimmed in the winter. They need all the fur coat protection they can get when it’s cold out.
General Tips on How to Keep Your Dog Warm at Home
You might be inside, but that doesn’t mean your dog can’t get cold there. Winter dog care applies to the inside and outside. It is important to ensure they are warm and comfortable while they are in the house as well as outside of it. Little things like ensuring their bed is raised off the ground with several layers of blankets can help keep the cold off them and keep them nice and toasty.
Dogs like to dig up their blankets, as building a little nest isn’t just how dogs get comfy. It’s also a great way for them to stay warmer by keeping their nose covered while they sleep (especially for breeds who do not have tails).
While it can be tempting to leave your dog to sleep by an open fire, make sure they are kept away from all heat sources. They could be in the same room as them to stay warm, but direct contact must be blocked. This is because it is very easy for dogs to burn themselves on radiators and fireplaces in the winter as they seek out heat.
Remember, feed your dog a little extra in the winter as part of your winter dog care. While you need to be careful that you don’t overfeed them, they need the additional calories in order to stay warm as the cold weather hits. They will be thankful for the food as it’s natural to need a bit more food in the colder months.
More Tips for Keeping Your Dog Warm on Winter Walks
When it’s cold out, keep dogs on leash to prevent them from running through cold-water puddles, and don’t let them go swimming. Being wet in the cold can cause a chill, which can lead to your dog getting sick but will also make them shaky and cause them to be freezing for the remainder of the walk.
As mentioned earlier, you should also try to walk in the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky. This is because even though it’s still cold out, it's the warmest at this time of day. Remember, if it’s too cold for you to walk outside without a jacket, it’s definitely too cold for most dogs (unless they’re winter breeds built for cold weather.)
If you want to keep your dog warm when you are out on walks together, there are a few things you can do to make the most of winter dog care. The first is to do your research and give them a doggy jumper and/or rain coat or wind-resistant doggie coat to help keep them warm. What you’ll need depends on the weather conditions in your area, so be sure to order the right item. This winter doggie apparel is especially useful for breeds such as whippets who have very thin coats, are thin dogs, and are prone to getting very cold.
Waterproof doggie boots for their feet can help keep the icy temperatures off their paw pads - especially for breeds that don’t have extra fur between their toes to protect them from the snow and cold. The boots are also great for preventing snow from getting stuck between their toes, which can be painful for dogs if left for the duration of a walk.
Find Out if Your Dog is a Cold-Weather Breed
Curious if it’s in your dog’s DNA to handle the cold? Take a CirclePAW DNA test for dogs to find out. All you have to do is swab your dog’s cheeks for 30 seconds which doesn’t feel uncomfortable for your dog. It’s easy, and you’ll get DNA insights about your dog including its personality traits, health risks, and what type of breed your dog is as well as breed information.
We hope that this guide on winter dog care has been able to ease your mind and give you a better idea of how to ensure your dog is safe and warm this winter. We know that winter dog care doesn’t always come to mind immediately, but not every dog was made for cold weather and a fur coat isn’t always the perfect line of defense for every breed.
- NCBI, In vitro evaluation of the effect of hypothermia on coagulation in dogs via thromboelastography:
- Hills Pet, Leaving a Dog in the Car: Hot & Cold Temperature Concerns:
- PetMD, How Much Should You Feed Your Dog in Fall and Winter?:
- NCBI, Antifreeze ingestion by dogs and rats: influence of stimulus concentration: