Feeling chilled to the core is one of the most unpleasant feelings you can ever have especially when there is nothing you can do about it. This may be the case with your outside dog if you live with the misconception that they have a coat of fur on and as such should be okay with the weather. As a dog owner, it is good you know that different dog breeds will react differently to cold weather. The short-furred ones like Chihuahuas are heat-seeking missiles, always looking forward to burrowing into a pile of warm blankets, while the thick-furred ones like German Shepherds don’t mind the rain and snow. Even if that’s the case, your outdoor canine friend needs a lot of love and attention or else they will feel neglected which is not good for your relationship with them. Below are some of the most reliable ways to keep outside dogs warm in the winter.
1. Offer a coat
Your canine buddy has his natural coat, but an extra one would not hurt now that you have a good reason to buy him some good-looking jackets. Seriously though, dogs that are not blessed with thick fur would benefit a lot from a snuggly fitting sweater or coat if they are to stay outside. The coat should fit perfectly from the neck to the base of the tail, so that it can provide comfort rather than restriction. It would be good to teach your dog as a pup so that they get accustomed to wearing the coat during the cold seasons, but even if he has become an adult, he will still appreciate it a lot.
2. Provide outdoor shelter
Any dog that is left to stay outside should be given a choice to use a kennel just in case they need to take some refuge from the rain and chilly winds of winter. Wind chill might feel even colder than the air temperature recorded by your thermometer. When such conditions come up, man’s best friend will get cold and maybe even wet, and his body temperature might drop alarmingly. That might make his internal organs shut down, putting him at risk of losing his life even when the temperature is above freezing point. That’s why a weather-tight kennel is one of the best tips on how to keep your outdoor dogs warm in the winter. Make sure that the shelter is secured to the ground, has a sloping roof and is easily accessible by your dog so that he can use it even when you are not around.
3. Use straw
You might want to get straw which is a good insulator for Fido to lie on. The best thing about using hay is that it’s inexpensive, and is not likely to become wet or maybe frozen as some dog beds do. The only thing you have to take care of is buying hay that has some seeds or any other material that is likely to get stuck in your dog’s fur as that may cause discomfort. You may even want to add a pallet beneath the straw to add some comfort by keeping the dog away from the cold, bare ground.
4. Carpet the shelter
Installing a carpet in the doghouse is another reliable way of keeping pooches off a cold concrete floor. Just be sure to firmly attach the rug so that it won’t be dragged outside and become wet. Adding a dog blanket after installing the carpet would also be a good idea as it would add some warmth.
5. Use heated pads
Heated pads are an effective but more expensive method of giving your lovely canine buddy a warm place to lie on. With an affordable $50, you can purchase a quality outdoor rated heated sleeping pad that gets warm to around 102 degrees Fahrenheit without using a lot of energy. If your dog is a heavy chewer or generally destructive, you might want to get him a heavy-duty mat which is also available at a premium price. Be cautious, however, with the wiring as you want to protect your pet from being electrocuted if they decide to chew around.
6. Insulate and heat the shelter
This option is mainly meant for the severe climate regions since using other simpler methods may not create enough warmth for the much-needed comfort. There are varying energy-efficient heating and air conditioning units for dogs which are specially designed to be used in dog shelters and can be purchased for around $600. As for insulation, there are many ecological choices that may include soy foam insulations and others.
7. Groom your dog
Short-haired dogs may benefit from a coat or sweater, unlike the dense-haired ones that can survive without an extra synthetic layer of clothing. That survival, however, can only be made possible by encouraging the hair to grow long enough in preparation for the cold seasons. As such, groom the dog and make sure that the hair around his paws is trimmed sufficiently so that it won’t accumulate a lot of snow and ice which can be dangerous and uncomfortable.
8. Feed your dog appropriately
This one might require that you involve your veterinarian for some advice on what and how you should feed your outdoor dog. Puppies, frail, and senior dogs might require more attention, and it’s recommended that they are fed many times a day to give them the energy they need to survive the cold weather. While you feed your canine companion, make sure that you stick to small and frequent meals as they are easier to digest and will quickly release the energy needed to keep warm. Get some fresh drinking water at the start of every day, and to make sure that the water is palatable, use a de-icer or heated bowls since your dog will avoid taking freezing water, and might end up becoming dehydrated.
9. Open a door
When the cold becomes extreme, you might want to let your dog come into the house, since even cold-weather dogs find it challenging to survive in extremely cold temperatures. As such, always stay prepared for such eventualities by giving your doggy an indoor option. If you don’t want to constantly open the door, installing an electric one(smart pet door) will work just perfect. Such doors will unlock only when a dog wearing a matching transmitter collar gets near, which is a good measure to deter unwanted entry.
10. Shrink the shelter
Make sure that the kennel is just large enough as that will allow the dog to use their heat to remain warm. A large doghouse looks quite luxurious but will require more energy to create and retain the warmth. The perfect shelter would be one that has just enough room to allow the dog to turn around just in case they need to. That way, the heat they dissipate from their body can be retained longer, keeping them warm in the long run.
Your dog is undeniably valuable in your life, and as such, you must do your best to make sure that he/she stays comfortable at all times as that will enhance your bond with them. Now that you know how to keep your outdoor dogs warm in the winter, go ahead and make use of those points to keep your canine friend comfortable.