How Cold is Too Cold For Your Pooch?

No one likes to be cold. Your toes hurt, your teeth start chattering and your cheeks turn an ugly shade of magenta. Unfortunately, the winter is no fun for Fido, either. Dogs can't tell you they're too cold, so it's your job as a responsible pet owner to make sure that they're comfortable outdoors.

A nice thick fur coat is usually enough to keep most dogs happy in cooler weather, but unless your dog is a breed that has a genetic disposition for arctic temperatures, there may be some things you can do that will insure their comfort outdoors.

Keep a Roof Over Their Heads
Most dogs love hanging out in the backyard for a bit to stretch their legs, but even pooches that spend the majority of their time outside need attention and shelter. Dogs with extremely heavy coats such as St. Bernards, Chow Chows and Huskies are able to handle frigid weather the best, but you can acclimate most pooches to stand the cold in milder winter conditions.

Even in the fall or spring it is a good idea to have shelter for your pooch. Nowadays dog houses come in dozens of different styles and sizes to fit your dog's needs. If you live in an area that is susceptible to frosty temperatures, there are dog houses and dog house accessories made especially for you.

Dog house Heated Pads: There are electric heated pads that are great for dogs to lie on during cold weather. These soft beds have an internal thermostat that warms the pad to match your dog's normal body temperature.

Dog Heater Furnace: A standard heater should not be used in a doghouse. It could cause a burn or even worse a fire if your dog got too close to the vents or started chewing on the cord. Specially made doghouse heaters are protected with lockable boxes and cleverly designed cords.

Blankets: As obvious and simple as it sounds, many pet owners don't think to throw a nice, thick blanket into their dog's house. A blanket provides extra insulation and can fight the cold when it's time to take a snooze.

When Is It Time To Come Inside?
Whenever your dog is outside, no matter what the weather conditions may be, it is wise to continually check on them to make sure they're happy and healthy. Unless you have a completely independent pooch, some supervision is important when your dog is outdoors.

There is no "set temperature" that can you tell you when its time to let your dog come inside. All dogs are different and even a mild cold front in 60s can make your dog's teeth chatter. However there are some signs you can remember when it's time to bring them in.

  • Whining: No one likes a whining dog, but if your pooch is scratching at the door and crying to come inside, it may be a sign that it is much too cold for his or her own good. It may be the first cue to let them in.
  • Weather Advisories: Keep an eye on the weather. If sudden storms or changes in the temperature are ahead, take note. A drastic shift in the weather can seriously affect your dog's health if you have not prepared for it.
  • Increased Appetite: It's in your dog's nature to survive and stay healthy. Its body knows it needs it needs more food and energy to stay fit during the colder weather. If your dog is munching way more than average, be sure it's not too cold for them.

Remember, just like people not all dogs are alike. For pooches, it mostly dependent on how thick their fur coat is and how often they're acclimated to colder weather. A dog with a long mane of hair is going to do much better than a shorthaired pit bull. Also, if you think that your dog is going to be spending time outside this winter, start by getting them ready in the early fall months with trips outdoors.

When it comes to the winter months, just be sure to be prepared. A little quote from Benjamin Franklin should help inspire you, "By failing to prepare, you're preparing to fail."

By Sean Bowes
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