Even the hairiest small dog breeds can't withstand winter's sub-zero temperatures. Small dogs will succumb to frostbite and hypothermia much quicker than larger dogs because their small bodies can't retain heat well. It's vital to keep your tiny dog safe and warm when the outside temps get frigid.
Keep Them Indoors
When the snow on the ground is deeper than your dog is tall and the temperatures are cold enough to drive you inside, you can bet that its uncomfortably cold for your small dog, too. Keep your little dog indoors at all times or at least as much as possible. This can be made easier by paper or piddle pad training your dog. The only reason for a trip outside is a potty break, so if your little one can use the facilities inside, he won't run the risk of frostbite or hypothermia.
Sufficient Food and Water
Even when your small dog is indoors during the winter, the air is still colder than he is used to, particularly in uncarpeted areas of your home. Trying to maintain his body heat will burn calories that he most likely doesn't have to spare. During the more chilly fall and winter months make sure your little dog has sufficient food and water to keep his system hydrated and supplied with the nutrition he needs to deal with the colder temperatures. Paw Rescue also recommends supplementing your small dog's diet with fatty acids to help maintain the health of his skin and coat during the cold, dry weather.
Sure it's cute to dress your little dog in a darling sweater -- particularly if it matches yours. But clothing for dogs serves a practical purpose during the icy months of winter. Just like putting on an extra layer of clothing helps keep you warm, outfitting your shivering little dog in a jacket or doggie sweater will help him hold in his body heat and remain more comfortable. If it is absolutely necessary for your tiny one to trek outside in freezing conditions, dog booties are a must. The specialized shoes will protect your little one's feet from the cold and help him retain his body heat, as dogs lose most of it through the pads of their feet as well as through their ears and respiratory tract.
A Warm Bed
Day or night, your small dog will appreciate a soft bed with a thick, warm blanket to snuggle into. An additional step you can take is to get a heating pad made especially for pet beds. These heated mats don't heat up too much, just enough to take the chill out of the bedding and they assist in reflecting your little dog's body heat back to him. Just slide the mat under the bottom layer of your dog's bedding and plug it into an electrical outlet. Because it uses electricity to keep your little guy comfy, you should keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't chew on the cord and to ensure that the cord stays intact and dry.
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.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.