When chilly temperatures prompt you to rug up as you head outdoors, remember the importance of keeping your dog warm as well.
While your canine companion carries their own furry coat, this may not always be enough to keep the winter cold at bay.
Is my dog feeling the cold?
As a general rule of thumb, if you are cold then your dog probably is as well. Look for the signs: is your dog shivering, whining, appearing anxious, reluctant to play but keen to snuggle?
Some dogs need special consideration. Seniors, those with medical conditions, short hair breeds or thinner dogs are more sensitive to cold, which exacerbates problems such as stiff joints or arthritis.
How to keep your dog warm
Snuggling is an enjoyable way to beat the cold but there is no need to hibernate. Follow our tips to keep your dog warm and make the most of the cooler weather.
Plan for outdoor adventures
Venturing out is important – even in winter! Dogs need regular exercise, and many enjoy socialising with their two-legged or four-legged friends. Consider changing your routine to go out for shorter periods. Avoid early mornings or late evenings; the sun is often warmer near midday so this is an ideal time.
Dress for the occasion
You may enjoy wearing matching AFL supporter vests, or think your pooch looks perfect in canine couture. However, clothing must be practical to keep your dog warm.
- Choose coats and jumpers suitable for activities your dog enjoys: consider fabric type, warmth, range of movement and weather conditions. An oilskin or waterproof coat is handy for rain or snow but remember their ears, nose, paws and tail will still be exposed, so don't stay out too long.
- Ensure a proper fit: a well-fitting pet coat will cover your dog from the neck to the base of the tail plus the belly area without restricting movement.
- Avoid overheating: dress your dog before you leave the house then remember to remove the coat when you return to the warmth.
Create a cosy bed
Pets will gravitate to warm places when the temperature drops, so place your dog’s bed away from drafts. Clean, cosy bedding is the best way to keep them snug, whether they sleep indoors or outdoors.
- Choose the correct size and style of bedding for your pet. The options are endless, from simple pillow-style beds and blankets to teepes to designer couches with heating pads. Some bedding is flea free, odour resistant, non-slip, self-warming, anti-fungal or water resistant.
- An elevated bed will keep your dog off cold or hard floor surfaces such as concrete, tiles and floorboards. This style of bed may not suit pets with arthritis or stiff joints, which are worse in the morning.
- Heating pads are a good option for warming up beds and soothing joint pain. Avoid hot water bottles in case they are mistaken for chew toys!
- Regularly wash and check all bedding for dampness and mould. Water resistant fabrics and removable covers make it easier to carry out this task.
- Don’t let your dog lie close to fireplaces or heaters, which pose a safety risk. Install pet-proof guards around heating sources to protect against burns.
Choosing a kennel
While some indoor pets find bliss snuggling with their owners at night, outdoor pets snooze peacefully in a comfortable kennel.
- Choose a kennel suited to the size of your dog. Kennels come in small, medium and large sizes so measure your pet from their nose to the tip of their tail, allowing room for growth if necessary. Once inside, your pet should be able to turn around with ease.
- These tiny homes should be sturdy, well-built, weatherproof and draught-free to protect against cold, heat, rain, wind and frost. Wood kennels are sturdy, comfortable and can be customised with a hinged roof or removable floor to make cleaning easier. Plastic kennels are solid, easy to assemble and clean. They resist water well but are best kept out of direct sunlight. Canvas kennels are portable, lightweight and easily transportable. Breathable, warm in winter and cool in summer, these kennels are flea and rust resistant, and waterproof.
- Look for features such as plastic door flaps offering protection against weather, raised floors keeping your dog dry and warm, or a hinged roof allowing you easy access for cleaning.
- Place the kennel in a sheltered, quiet spot close to the house. Add a kennel liner for insulation and cosy bedding for comfort.
Cooler temperatures can bring some challenges, but following our tips can help you keep your dog warm, whether you are snuggling at home or enjoying the great outdoors.