How to keep your dog warm in winter

How to keep your dog warm in winter

If you’re cold, your dog is also, some say. Others argue that dogs are better adapted to the cold than we (furless humans) are. Who’s right?

January 23, 2023

Because their body temperatures are moderately higher than ours, dogs tend to feel the cold less than we humans do. Several factors influence your dog’s disposition to cold weather. Here’s a brief guide to help your 4-legged friend make the most of winter.

Factors to consider:

  • Size: smaller dogs feel the cold more than their larger counterparts
  • Type of fur: breeds with short, thinner and (of course!) no hair, such as Chihuahuas, Dachshunds and Greyhounds are more susceptible to cold weather than those with thicker, longer fur, such as Huskies and German Shepherds
  • Age: puppies and senior dogs are more affected by colder temperatures than other dogs
  • Weight: due to their lack of body fat, thinner dogs generally feel the cold more quickly than more corpulent ones. However, overweight dogs can get cold quickly because they must burn higher more energy to warm up
  • Lifestyle: dogs that spend their time asleep in front of a wood-burning stove are less likely to want to go for long outdoor walks. Being physically active is the best way to ward off the cold. An inactive dog (on a balcony, for instance) will get colder more quickly than one that has the freedom to run free.

Signs that your animal is cold:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of movement
  • Frequent stopping when out walking
  • Raising paws when walking
  • Sluggishness. If your dog seems despondent, consult a veterinarian immediately.

How to protect your dog from the cold:

  • Avoid over trimming. Longer fur—naturally—insulates better. Bathe your dog less frequently: this will allow your dog to retain sebum, a natural skin secretion, which helps canines stay warm
  • Keep walks brief and play games indoors. When temperatures drop below -10°C, walks shouldn’t last longer than 10-15 minutes

  • Get your dog an appropriate winter coat or sweater, especially if your dog has short hair. Avoid any fashion accessories which may impede your dog’s movement
  • Protect their paws from chilblains and injuries, caused by salt and calcium, with winter booties. Consider treating paws with appropriate balms or petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline), as necessary. Be sure to clean their paws carefully when you get home—taking care to avoid hot water which can be painful and cause injury
  • Dry your dog with a towel when you get in. Remove any traces of salt, calcium and ice which may wedge between the pads of their paws and cause irritation

Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your dog a comfortable winter season. Remember: if you see any signs of irritation or chilblains, consult your veterinarian immediately. Now head outdoors and enjoy!

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