Dog BreedsDog Health & Care

Keeping Dogs Warm in Winter

Keeping dogs warm in winter requires more than common sense and lots of doggie care. Granted, anything you do will help. But keeping an outside dog warm in winter is different than keeping an inside dog warm while they are outside outside or going for a quick when toileting outside or going for quick exercise walks. Kind of a tongue twister, isn’t it? Maybe it depends on whether you have teeth or not…or at least inside your mouth!

A lot of rules about keeping dogs warm in winter depend on many things:

  • What breed of dog do you have?
  • Is your dog short-haired, medium-haired, long-haired … or is it a double-coated dog?
  • Is it a dog that has been raised outside for a long time?
  • Is it an indoor dog that has been raised indoors?
  • Even if the inside dog is large, it still needs to be considered an inside dog due to being climatized to the indoors.
dogs warm in winter
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Ways to keep dogs warm in winter

At our dog shelter, we have all types of dogs. The best cold outside dogs are the Miniature American Eskimos, Shiba Inus, and Cocker Spaniels.

Dogs with lots of heavy fur are the best outside dogs, especially the ones with double-coats referred to as the “Northern Dogs” (Eskimos, Huskies, Samoyeds, Chows, Elkhounds, Akitas, Iceland Sheepdogs, Chinooks, and Wolf-hybrids—to name just a few).

Importance of winter hay for outside dogs

Hay is  a top priority in winter for our outside dogs. We stock up as early as we can, with many neighbors donating prairie hay when it gets down in size in their fields. We stock up with all colors and sizes of blankets for the inside dogs or to place outside for dogs who like to snuggle. We find them wrapped in blankets all over the house to keep their feet and tiny bodies warm.  The hay usually takes care of the outer dogs, so the pads of their feet will not be directly on snow, water or ice. Also, be prepared to break ice two to three times a day in their bowls of water to prevent dehydration.

Dogs who live outside have a need to gain weight in the winter for warmth. They will begin eating more doggie food in the fall and winter. This helps them add layers of fat to keep themselves warmer during the long winter. Feeding another half-a cup or so of food a day will help this layer build up before winter arrives, which won’t be hard as the dog instinctively will become hungrier at this time and sleep more.

Why winter grooming is important for outside dogs

Keeping the dog’s heavy fur brushed at this time prevent knots from forming. Keeping knots out increases the dog’s ability to remain warm. Heavy knots pulls the fur and leaves their skin to the elements, leaving a tendency to pull the skin loose and tear it. In the winter, this is a difficult wound to handle as topical medical will not stay on well.

A couple other important things regarding outside dogs is to keep their toenails and the hair around the pad area routinely trimmed. Another problem is that frozen fur builds up in the core of their pads. Balls of ice in the air can hinder their movements and destroy tendons. Watch this area after heavy snow storms, ice storms, or an outside build-up of sleet. In addition to causing the dog to become lame, it will throw his walk off, permanently injuring his foot and legs for life if not caught in time.

How to keep inside dogs warm in winter

Inside dogs are very used to living in a nice warm environment while happily snuggling under their favorite blanket most of the time during the winter.

For a fact, inside house dogs cannot be placed outside very long in winter weather or any bad weather, or they can easily freeze to death very quickly or get pneumonia.

Winter boots or winter coats for dogs who are exposed to the cold and raincoats for dogs who are in stormy weather are important for small dogs to wear have in environments with severe weather drops or bad snow storms. They need to be protected and cared for by a caring and loving pet  owner, especially if they are small dogs who are short-haired— such as chihuahuas or rat-terriers with very little built-in natural protection.

Keeping doggie feet trimmed during winter

The same rules apply to inside dogs as for outside dogs for keeping their feet clean from ice balls or fur knots on the body  if they have hair which hangs in the snow or ice, such as the long-haired dachshunds, Yorkies, Scotties or Cairn Terriers. Weighted down long ears with excess hair, such as Cocker Spaniels, are a severe winter problem with ice balls and matted hair.

Many dogs who are inside dogs should not be shaved down or clipped short in the fall unless they have very caring owners who do not leave them outside very long. The subject of dogs warm in winter cannot be overstated enough. This is a time of the year when dogs can lose their lives due to neglect and winter elements.  Keeping dogs warm in winter is vital, and simple to do.

dogs warm in winter


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  1. January 2, 2010 at 7:27 am — Reply

    I found just a bit of time to quickly wish a Merry Christmass and a Happy New Year to some people and wanted to stop by your site for just a second.. I know I’m a bit late with merry christmass but I’ve just been a tad busy with so many guests and I’m sure you are too. So Merry Christmass to you and your family and I hope all of you will have a happy new year. Don’t stop posting new posts next year because I will miss them 🙂

    • February 9, 2016 at 7:49 pm — Reply

      hey, miniature boxers……thank you very much for your christmas and holiday wishes! And do not worry. We will be posting all year; thank you for your kind words. I wish you would do an article for me on your miniature boxers, as I have never seen them or heard about them. So unique!!!


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nancy L.Young-Houser and Tia The Lion, Diane Mary. Diane Mary said: How to keep dogs warm in winter – […]

  3. December 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    I guess I always thought you just let them climb in bed with you under the electric blanky? LOL

    Carleen Hatas

    • February 9, 2016 at 7:50 pm — Reply

      that has been done, Carleen. You know that one! LOL

  4. December 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm — Reply

    Good article…I also like to keep more than one dog per doghouse, as they can keep warm off of each other’s additional body heat. Plus blocking the wind from hitting a dog house directly also helps a lot in the blustery cold months. We also tack up carpet over our dog house door to help wind from blowing directly in. Just a few more tips to add!! 🙂

    Danielle Oliver Tegtman

    • February 9, 2016 at 7:51 pm — Reply

      Good ideas, Danielle! Thank for writing, haven’t seen you for awhile. 🙂

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