How to Keep Your Outside Dog Warm in the Winter

Fur coats are not enough to protect dogs in very cold temperatures.
i Dog in Snow image by ne_fall_photos from

Mild winters may be OK for healthy dogs, but extreme cold and wind can quickly lead to illness, injury and death. Do not leave your dog outside for prolonged periods in very cold weather, and take steps to keep him warm when he is outside for any length of time.

Step 1

Provide your dog with appropriate shelter if he is going to be outside for more than a few hours. This means a dry doghouse large enough to stand up in. Make sure the house is not too big, however, as cozier places trap body heat better. If possible install a heater and elevate your dog's shelter to keep it out of the snow.

Step 2

Equip the doghouse with everything your dog needs. There should be a wind flap on the door, unfrozen water inside and nonporous bedding for your dog to sleep on. If your dog enjoys sleeping with a blanket, include one of those. Just make sure to check it frequently and replace it if it becomes wet.

Step 3

Place a hot water bottle inside your dog's house. These are designed to hold heat for several hours and can placed anywhere.

Step 4

Warm your dog's water with a warming device. You can find these in many retail stores and online. Check it every day to ensure it is working properly.

Step 5

Buy him a sweater. These do more than just look cute; sweaters keep long hair dry, protect against wind and hold body heat against the skin. If possible, choose a sweater or jacket with a waterproof covering.

Step 6

Fit him with dog boots. These will keep your dog's feet warm and protect him from icy ground. Dogs regulate their body temperature through their feet.

Step 7

Clip the hair between your dog's toes before letting him walk outside. This helps prevent snow from collecting between his toes.

Step 8

Wipe off your dog's paws before bringing him back indoors. You can also dip them in warm water. It is important to remove snow, ice, salt and antifreeze.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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