Cold weather is not a friend to your dog. Even Malamutes and Siberian Huskies…dogs bred for cold…require some thought about their comfort and safety. All dogs should be protected from cold weather by staying indoors whenever possible. I stay inside when it is very cold…and so do my dogs. I know that is not possible for all dog owners. Still…. there are things to do to keep your dog safe and secure when the weather turns cold or wet.
The most important thing is to keep your dog warm and we can do that by providing:
A warm dry place to stay when your dog is outside is important. Your dog should have access to your enclosed garage or enclosed porch. An insulated, enclosed dog house that is off the ground by a few inches to keep the floor from freezing is essential. More importantly, the dog house entry should be on the downwind side and along a protected part of the house.
Bedding, in the form of a blanket or a comfortable dog bed, can be helpful in keeping your dog dry and safe. However, during rainy weather, a wet or damp dog bed is of no use, and you should monitor the condition of the bedding often during periods of rain. Especially if your dog in using an enclosed garage or dog house. Sometimes, if you have access to dry straw, straw can be great bedding material to keep your dog warm, and it is easy to replace.
A dog, outside during inclement weather, can burn more calories trying to stay warm, Sometimes an increase in calories will be the factor in a dog surviving cold weather.
A dog that lives indoors most of the time will need a jacket if they are outside for any time during cool weather. Again… this will depend on the breed of dog. Some dogs with heavier coats will not have a problem being outside for short periods of time during freezing weather. Other dogs… perhaps no so comfortable. A raincoat is also a good idea with some dogs. Remember… this will be a dog-by-dog decision based on age, health, and breed. There is no one answer for all dogs. Check with your veterinarian.
Years ago, my wife and I adopted a retired Greyhound from a track in Arizona. You may know that, years ago, the Greyhound racing industry did not have a good history when it came to retired Greyhounds. There were some instances of dead Greyhounds found in the desert after being shot. Apparently, some owners felt that it was cheaper to shoot a dog than to care for it after its racing career had ended. But… that is another issue. Our Greyhound, Jake, lived inside with us and was always on leash when we walked him. But…occasionally… we would put Jake outside with our German Shepherd, Morgan. We had a covered enclosed shed with dog beds off the floor of the shed. Overhead, I wired in an infrared lamp (used for brooding chickens) and kept Jake nice and comfortable for the few hours he might be outside in cool weather. It was a real treat to see Jake laying comfortable under infrared heat. Truthfully… Jake love it.
The reason I am writing this is the following news story:
“January 2, 2018: A litter of newborn puppies died from prolonged exposure to the frigid outdoor temperatures in Knox County, Illinois, just one day after Christmas, according to WQAD.
The black lab mix’s owner had apparently been keeping her outside in below-freezing temperatures and didn’t even realize she was pregnant until she gave birth on Dec. 26.
After noticing the litter of puppies, the dog’s owner called the Knox County Humane Society for assistance.
Sadly, eight of the pups froze to death before rescuers were able to transport them back to the shelter, and only one from the litter survived.”
Personally, I am shocked and angry about this. More and more states are starting to write laws to prosecute people who leave dogs outside during freezing weather.
I strive to be as accurate as possible with all my posts, but I do not claim to be the final word on dog health, training, or any aspect of dog behavior. I am an owner like you and I love my dogs, and I strive to share my ideas, thoughts, and suggestions with other dog owners. If you have any questions, concerns or issues about your dog’s health, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your dog. Do the right thing!