ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
Pet Health Articles
Keep Your Dog Warm in the Winter
By Rachel Morris
When the weather outside gets frightful, it’s a must to make sure your dog stays safe and
warm. Your pet is unlikely to whine about the wind chill, so it’s up to you to keep an eye on
the conditions and decide when it’s time to come inside and warm up. Use these tips to help
keep your dog toasty on the coldest days.
Pay attention to the mercury Down coats, chunky scarves, wooly hats and thick gloves
make it easy to forget what the temperature actually reads, but remember that your dog is
only sporting what nature gave him, and for many dogs it’s not always enough. “Dogs who
have a second layer of hair, such as Huskies and Newfoundlands, can withstand cold
conditions, but most breeds don’t have this additional layer of insulation,” says Douglas
Aspros, DVM, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association. If your dog lacks this
additional warmth, Aspros says to be careful when the temp dips below 20 degrees
Fahrenheit. If it’s a wet or exceptionally windy day, consider shortening your daily walk, or
skipping it altogether and only venturing outdoors for bathroom breaks.
Size up your dog Smaller breeds have a higher surface area to body mass ratio compared to
their larger dog park pals, which means they radiate heater faster. If your pup is on the petite
side, a dog jacket can help provide protection from the wind and cold. Older dogs with
arthritis—whether large or small—should be watched carefully too, since the cold can
aggravate the condition and make their joints even stiffer. Bottom line: Pay attention to your
pet. If she’s reluctant to go outside on a winter day, it’s probably a sign that she’s not ready
to handle the weather.
Feed wisely If your pet’s outdoor time isn’t cut short during the winter, he’ll need more
energy to stay warm, so talk to your veterinarian about upping how much food you give
him. However, most dogs tend to spend more time indoors during the winter. Be careful not
to overfeed your dog if he gets less exercise during the colder months to ensure that he is at
a healthy weight come springtime.
Watch the ground Dog booties don’t just look adorable; they can also be a big help on
frozen surfaces. While they won’t do much to keep your dog’s paws warm, they will protect
him from irritants such as sharp crusty snow and ice that can cut up his pads. If you choose
not to purchase booties for your dog, Aspros recommends attempting to avoid these icy
areas during your walks and checking your dog’s paws after he comes inside to make sure
they aren’t injured. And don’t worry about him getting cold feet: Thanks to their unique
circulation system, dogs’ paws are naturally equipped to handle frigid temperatures,
according to a 2012 study in the journal Veterinary Dermatology.
Sleep soundly Your dog will probably scout out a warm spot to curl up indoors, whether it’s
in front of the fireplace or in a sunny patch on the floor, but be sure that his bed is also
located somewhere away from drafts. If you have hardwood or tile floors, consider throwing
an extra blanket on there to give him more protection from the chilly surface. And when in
doubt, an extra snuggle session will warm you both up, no mater how frosty it is outside.
Rachel Morris is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY, and fervent photographer of her 1-
year-old dog, Ridge.