Keeping Your Dogs Warm in Winter

Keep your dogs WARM, HAPPY and HEALTHY this Winter

It makes perfect sense to keep your dogs inside at night, no matter what season. Here they can protect you, and you can protect them

The chilly winds of winter have arrived again, and all animals, including us and our faithful canine companions, feel the cold equally as temperatures plummet, especially in the high-lying areas of the country.

Granted, dogs and other animals have genuine fur coats to protect them against extremes of weather, whereas we humans must make up for our relative lack of body hair by dressing suitably come winter. We have the luxury of choice and can add on as many layers of clothing as necessary to maintain a comfortable body temperature, even in the coldest of weather; whereas dogs only have what they’re born with and can’t just switch on a heater, add more blankets or fill up a hot water bottle for themselves before cuddling in at night. This is where your best friends need a little extra TLC.


Not all dogs have the same amount of insulating fur as, say, the average Husky. This cold weather breed is completely at home in the harshest Arctic blizzard and is equipped by Nature with a double, insulating coat. The Dobermann or Chihuahua, on the other hand, will appreciate some additional protection in winter. Senior dogs and puppies have more difficulty regulating their body temperature in extremes of weather. Small dogs and those with short coats are also especially vulnerable.

It makes perfect sense to keep your dogs inside at night, no matter what season. Here they can protect you, and you can protect them – far more efficiently than if they were left outside at night.

They’ll be sheltered from extremes of weather, and from possible dangers such as poisoning and violence from intruders. Without doubt, the pros of having a dog inside at night far outweigh the cons.

Take care that no chilly draughts enter your home through windows or doors at night, maintain a comfortable ambient temperature indoors, and ensure that your companion’s bedding is warm, dry and well insulated, especially at the base.


If for some reason you choose to keep your dog outside, then a good kennel is a must-have. Please ensure that the kennel is well constructed, leak-proof, insulated, and importantly, sited with care – out of the path of strong cold gusts of wind, away from dripping gutters or roofs, and preferably in the warmest spot available, either north- or north-west-facing. Provide additional blankets in winter and clean the bedding as often as you would the dog’s bedding indoors.


Shelter dogs need your help, especially over the winter months. If possible, please donate beds, blankets, dog jerseys and tummy-warming food to dogs in shelters.


Dogs can “catch cold” if left exposed to extremes of weather for any prolonged length of time. So, if your dogs are used to sleeping indoors at night in winter, be careful to ensure they’re not left outside by mistake and end up spending the night without protection. When a dog’s body temperature drops below 37 degrees Celsius, mild hypothermia begins to set in. If the dog isn’t treated for hypothermia in time, the condition can deteriorate rapidly and it may end up in respiratory and cardiac failure, with resulting damage to the brain and coma. Temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius are potentially dangerous for dogs, and being exposed to lower temperatures than this for any extended periods of time will result in life-threatening health complications.

You need to look out for the following symptoms –

  • Shivering
  • Curling up to try and keep warm
  • Erratic heart rate – alternates between rapid and sluggish
  • Abnormal, erratic breathing
  • Listlessness or depression
  • Delayed reactions and sluggishness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Losing consciousness

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