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You don’t have to worry about your dog in cold weather because dogs already have coats, right? Wrong. Your dog can’t automatically protect himself from harsh weather. You need to keep your dog safe in brutally cold weather because exposure conditions like frostbite are dangerous. The best ways to protect your dog from the cold are to keep the right warm accessories like paw protection and coats on your dog and to stay aware of how cold is too cold for your dog.
We’ll address those key tips here and also give you some great suggestions for specific products you can buy to keep your dog safe and warm. Finally, we’ll discuss a simple plan to teach your dog to love wearing his coat or sweater outside! Of course we’ve tossed in lots of great dog photos, too.
1. Knowing How Cold Is Too Cold for Dogs
If only there was an easy answer to this question! Unfortunately, you have to use your common sense and get to know your dog. Every dog is different and cold sensitivity varies from breed to breed.
Use your powers of perception to watch your dog’s behavior. For instance, if your dog shivers in cold weather, he’s probably uncomfortably cold. If you see your dog shake, reach for a sweater or cold weather gear.
Additionally, dogs with thick or under coats can withstand colder conditions than shorthaired breeds. The weight a dog carries can also help protect him from the cold.
Use these guidelines to shape how you and your dog play outside in cold weather.
2. What to Do When Your Dog’s Nose Is Cold
Your dog’s nose isn’t really a barometer to how he’s feeling. Some dogs have cold noses and some run warmer. What you can look for is drastic changes in the temperature of your dog’s nose.
When your dog plays in cold weather, his nose will get chilly. If he isn’t shivering or holding his paws up, he is probably ok.
We’ll detail later why it’s important to limit your dog’s time outside in the cold, even if he acts like he’s fine. For now, use nose temperature as one of the factors you consider when assessing the right temperature for your dog.
3. How to Keep a Dog’s Water From Freezing
The best way to keep your dog’s water from freezing is to keep it inside. Dogs shouldn’t be left out in the brutal cold and neither should their water.
That being said, there are warming dishes you can buy to keep water outside from freezing. With a heated pet bowl, you can control the temperature and keep fresh water available for your pet.
Some DIY alternatives include insulating your dog’s water with a styrofoam cooler and using warmers designed for pet beds. If you do opt for some type of electric warming system, be careful and shelter it according to manufacturer guidelines.
4. Solve Cold Nights With Pet Bed Warmers
Pet bed warmers are so great they get their very own category on our list! You can use these in areas like garages or in a cool area of your home. You can choose a bed warmer that heats in the microwave or one that plugs into the wall. Obviously, you must always follow manufacturer directions to be sure you and your pet will stay safe.
Some pet bed warmers are heavier duty and ok for outdoor use. If you aren’t sure if the one you have is safe for outside, contact the manufacturer and ask.
5. Fight the Cold With Heated Dog Pads
You can also find warmers called heated dog pads. These pads can be used indoor or outdoor depending on the brand. They are an excellent solution for dogs who spend part of the day outside. They also make great additions to homes with older dogs.
Heated dog pads and pet bed warmers are a lot alike and both can help keep your dog snuggly and cozy in the winter.
6. Protecting Your Dog’s Paws From Salt
Some of the chemicals used to melt ice and snow in cold weather are caustic to our dogs. These products can also cause harm if ingested. Dogs lick their paws frequently. It’s safest to prevent anything from making its way from the street to their mouth.
Dog boots are a great solution if your dog will tolerate them. If you live in a cold climate, get a set for your dog and start training her to love them. The more comfortable she is, the easier it will be to sell her on them.
If your dog is resistant, keep at it and reinforce a positive association by giving your dog treats when she’s wearing her booties.
There are a variety of dog boots to choose from. Your dog may prefer a more structured shoe or one that’s lightweight. Picking the right boot is a trial and error experiment that is well worth it once you hit the right combination.
7. Keeping Dogs Warm While They Play
It’s a great idea to limit your dog’s play time outside in the winter. Play for an hour or so and then take a break inside where it’s warm. If your dog shows signs of the cold, however, cut your play time short.
Some signs of low body temperature in dogs include shivering, change in behavior, curled posture, whimpering or whining, and in serious cases lethargy and muscle stiffness.
To avoid these complications during play time, wrap your dog up in a warm blanket during play or send him out in a sweater or coat. You may have to habituate your dog to the coat in the same way you did with the boots. Once you nail it, you and your dog will feel much better.
Some dogs come to love their coats because it signals outside time. Think about how your dog acts when you touch his leash. You’re going for a similar effect with his coat.
Also, it’s cuteness overload.
8. How to Train Your Dog to Love Sweaters
If you need more tips to make your dog love his sweater, we’ve got ‘em! Even if it’s difficult at first, teaching your dog to wear a sweater is one of the best methods for keeping dogs warm outside.
Clicker training is a good skill to learn because it will help you train your dog to do many things beyond just slipping into a sweateror coat. Once you’ve conditioned the clicker, use it to form a positive association between your dog and the sweater.
If clicker training isn’t for you, use the same principles to help your dog love his sweater. For instance, give your dog a treat when you show him the sweater. Involve the sweater in cuddle time and caress your dog with it. The more interested you seem in the coat the more likely your dog will be too!
Keep giving your dog treats whenever the sweater is involved. After a couple of weeks of this type of positive conditioning, put the sweater on your dog and immediately take him outside.
Act excited and give a few more treats.
Consistency is the key to success with this method.
Finally, you can actually show your dog how you put on your coat or sweater. Some dogs want to be just like us and can learn from this modeling technique.
9. How to Pack a Lot Of Play Into a Short Time Outside
Because it’s smart to limit your dog’s outside time in cold weather, how can you pack lots of energy burn off into a short burst of play?
A nice slow walk may do the trick in summer, but when it’s cold outside, vigorous exercise will keep your dog warm and burn up lots of pent up energy quickly. Toss a ball or frisbee into the snow and encourage your dog to bound through it. The extra effort will tire him out quicker than a leisurely walk.
If your dog has a good sense of smell, teach him to find things outside in the winter. Engaging his mind and body at once provides more stimulation.
You can also play with your dog inside to help offset the time in the cold outdoors. Games like fetch and tug of war can happen indoors where it is nice and warm. Your dog will still get tired through play.
Fight The Cold With Your Furry Friend
It’s awesome that you want to keep your dog happy and healthy all winter long. It’s not as hard as you think, either. Using the tips we’ve shared like which purchases to make, how to get your dog to love his sweater, and how to manage outside time, you’ve got all the tools you need to tackle the snow and cold together.
Thanks for spending time with us again here at Scout Knows. If you haven’t seen our latest articles about Slow Growth Feeding Plans and How To Choose A Veterinarian, check them out for more great dog reading.
We hope to see you back again soon for more information on being a great dog owner. Check us out on social media before you go so you never miss a post.
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