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How to Keep Dogs Warm Outside When Taking a Walk in the Winter

January 7, 2019

4 min read

Your dog has to go out no matter the weather. That's why it's important to know how to keep dogs warm outside even on the coldest days.

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A daily walk with your dog during spring, summer, and fall can be a nice routine that keeps both you and your furry friend active. However, if you're like most dog owners, cold temperatures make it a struggle to get outside for regular walks during the winter.

You don't want to disappoint your dog, though (and they need to go out). So, you bundle up in a warm jacket, hat, gloves, and scarf, and head out for a brisk lap or two around the neighborhood. But what about your four-legged companion? Do you know how to keep dogs warm outside?

"It's a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue," according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Before you make a game plan for keeping your dog toasty in winter weather, consider a few of your dog's unique traits. Just like people, some dogs may thrive in colder temperatures, while others prefer to hide under a pile of blankets when the first snowflake falls. Think about your dog's:

Size and weight: Smaller dogs tend to get colder than larger dogs, as do thinner dogs. PetMD warns, though, not to fatten up your dog during the winter to keep them warm—the health risks outweigh any benefits.

Coat: How thick is your dog's coat? Does she have short, thin hair like a greyhound? Or a double-layered coat like a Siberian husky? Also, is their coat color darker or lighter? Dogs with darker coats tend to have an advantage when it comes to staying warm because the dark color absorbs sunlight and heat.

Age and health: If your pup is older, very young, or sick, he will need better protection from the cold. Healthy dogs are usually able to regulate their body temperatures more easily.

PetMD points out that most dogs are fine until temperatures start to dip below 45 degrees F. You'll want to start thinking about how to keep dogs warm outside at that point. 32 degrees F is when smaller/thinner/older/younger/sick pets may begin to be negatively affected, but once temperatures go below 20 degrees, think about just staying inside. Like humans, dogs have the potential to get frostbite and hypothermia if they're exposed to cold weather for too long.

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What You Need to Know About How to
Keep Dogs Warm Outside


As much as we may prefer to stay inside when the temperatures drop, your dog still needs to go out, even if only for a quick trip to the grass strip. Still, you'll want to keep them as warm as possible on that short walk.
  • Don't shave your dog in the winter—the more hair or fur, the better.
  • Dress your dog in a jacket that repels moisture. You want a covering that will keep them warm and dry.
  • Your dog may hate it, but consider getting them booties to protect their paws. Freezing temperatures can lead to dry, cracked paws, and ice melters and salts—many of which are toxic to dogs—can cause serious harm. If your dog absolutely won't wear the booties, Vet Street recommends putting a pet-safe gel like Musher's Secret on their paws; petroleum jelly works, too.
  • You know the hair that grows around the paw pads? Keep it trimmed short so snow can't stick and accumulate on their feet.
  • Try to schedule your walks for the daytime hours if you're concerned about how to keep dogs warm outside. Temperatures are usually warmer during the day.

As you walk, pay attention to your dog. Watch for signs that they are uncomfortable, such as shivering, limping, or clearly not being interested in walking.

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Tips for Keeping Your Dogs Safe
and Warm This Winter

In addition to being careful on walks, there are also a few other winter dangers to look out for.

1. Your dog may love galloping around in fresh snow, but never let your pup off-leash in snow or ice. The Weather Channel says that more dogs get lost during the winter than during any other season because they can lose their scent in the snow.

2. Wipe your dog off completely when they come inside from a walk or even a bathroom break. Remove any salt, antifreeze, or other dangerous chemicals from their paws and dry off any snow or ice.

3. You know not to leave your dog in a hot car during the summer, but the same goes for winter. Your vehicle can quickly become frigid when it's turned off, so don't take a chance—even for 5 minutes.

4. Remember your dog when you stock up for winter storms. If the power goes out or you're stuck inside for a few days, make sure you have enough food, water, and medication to keep them safe and healthy.

When in doubt in the winter, just keep your beloved, four-legged friend inside. They love being warm, safe, and comfortable just like you do.

These tips will help keep your dog warm in the winter, but pet insurance can protect them all year-round. Contact Heitmann Insurance Services to learn more.