how to protect a dog from cold weather

How to protect a dog from cold weather?

In determining how to protect a dog from cold weather without changing his daily habits too much, we must take into account many criteria. Indeed, all breeds of dogs do not react in the same way to colder conditions, and each area has its own specific climate.

However, identifying these two characteristics is not enough to measure a dog’s sensitivity to cold. Because two dogs of the same breed and living in the same city can feel the cold in a different way, quite simply because their lifestyle is different. One sleeping in a niche and living outside all year round, the other having been educated from a very young age to sleep in the family house and take short daily walks.

The age of the animal or its health condition are other factors to consider in making the right decisions for the well-being of your dog.

husky living in winter conditions

If you want to protect a dog from cold weather, consider elements such as the choice of the dog house, the balance of his diet, the adaptation of his daily habits, the use of clothes and slippers and your dog’s reaction to cold weather.

Which dogs are the most resistant to the cold?

The vigilance of the owner

Dogs are generally not very resistant to cold, although they do better than humans. Except that a dog can also catch a small “cold” if he is exposed to excessively low temperatures. If he does not have a closed space such as a kennel or a place in an isolated garage, he will not be able to adequately protect himself from the cold.

A sharp drop in temperatures can be fatal. Note also that a person who goes out very warmly dressed will feel the cold less than his dog. You should therefore always pay attention to your dog’s behavior, signs that point to discomfort or weakness.

The breeds

Dogs that have a long and dense coat are those who resist the best to cold, especially when they are from Nordic countries such as the Chow-Chow, the Husky and the Leonberger or the Newfoundland. On the opposite, short-haired dogs like the Greyhound or Yorkie will be more sensitive to the cold.

warm kennel for winter

The general condition

Besides the breed and the age, the predisposition to certain diseases are also factors which will influence the sensitivity of the dog. Puppies and older dogs are more sensitive to cold than a dog that is in the prime of his life.

What is the influence of the environment and lifestyles?

Although each breed of dog is more or less predisposed to endure the cold, the animal’s lifestyle can have a greater impact on its sensitivity to changes in weather.

The environment and the cold

Each region in a country may have its own unique climate. Thus, the perception of clod weather is greatly influenced by your geographic. For example, cold is defined differently in the north vs the south, in the mountains, by the sea or in the country compared to the city.

And if the same temperature prevails in two different areas, the windchill factor may create conditions that are quite different. A dog living in a windy area will experience greater heat loss while a dog will support dry cold conditions more easily than humid weather.


A dog that lives in the countryside and in the open air all year round endures very low temperatures, while dogs that live all day in cozy and heated apartments will be more sensitive to them. Between these two extremes we may find a dog who spends his time between the garden and the living room, but sleeps outside.

dog coat for cold weather

When a dog is used to sleep outside it does not mean that he is set up anywhere in the open air and under the stars. A dog that sleeps outside must have a kennel to protect him, which should be installed in a suitable place.

No dog ever really sleeps outside, except perhaps the most resilient Sheepdogs. However, even these breeds appreciate a dog house to sleep in.

How to protect a dog from cold weather?

The care that is given to a dog generally follows cycles. There is regular brushing, monthly washing, seasonal mowing, etc. Winter is a special season and not all dogs are created equal. However, it should be remembered here that in general, dogs prefer cold temperatures to hot climates.

Preventive care

Despite the cold, parasites still circulate in nature. You must therefore continue to deworm and treat your dog against ticks and fleas. During this period, these small parasites also like to be warm, in the coats of animals or in houses. Don’t hesitate to disinfect your dog’s bedding, but also your sofas and rugs.

dog with winter coat

Dog winter coat

For apartment dogs, after each walk, it will be necessary to dry the animal and mainly its belly and between the toes of its paws. When it is really cold, it is recommended to put on a coat and slippers to your dog.

Dogs that spend their days outside are not going to change their habits because of the cold. In the event of very sharp drops in temperature, you may need to let your dog into a heated space in the house. However, if he is used to smaller spaces, your dog will probably stay there for a short time and only at night.


During this period, we generally avoid shearing the animals. On the other hand, we must continue to wash and brush them, except during periods of very intense cold when grooming will be limited to checks and brushing. It is also very important that vaccines kept are up to date.

Curative care

Cold seasons are conducive to disease. It is not uncommon for a dog who does not go out for a long time to suffer from a cold or gastroenteritis. A cough, unusual shortness of breath, diarrhea or fever are clear symptoms.

In animals that spend a lot of time outdoors, it is above all a change in behavior that drives the development of these diseases. The dog may become lethargic and lose his appetite. As soon as these signs appear, you must quickly take your dog to the vet.

Appropriate treatment and rest for a few days, warm conditions at home, will put your faithful companion back on its feet.

dog staying warm at home

Protect a dog from cold weather: should we change the diet?

A seasonal diet

During the winter, a dog burns a large amount of calories to keep his body at the right temperature. This natural mechanism of the metabolism is comparable to that of humans. The colder it is, the more protein content the food should contain.

Of course, this is especially valid for animals which are highly active during the day. For all others, the diet will have to be adapted, but for dogs who go out little and do not burn much calories, there is no need to change anything.

Diet changes

Dogs who spend their days outdoors should heat at least 10% more during cold seasons. The more active the dog, the more the food intake should increase. Thus, hunting dogs could get up to 30% more food than their normal diet.

The diet change should always be gradual. If you change the type of kibble or type of food, gradually introduce it into your dog’s ration and reduce the other food type accordingly.

A change of diet that is too rapid may be the cause of an expansion or twisting of the stomach. This reaction is observed in large dogs and the first symptoms are generally stress or the ingestion of more food before or after a higher than normal physical effort.

Most dogs can handle the cold. It depends on their genetics and their way of life. To guarantee their well-being, it is necessary to adapt their environment by offering them a kennel adapted to their size, providing constant care and by adapting their food to their needs.

Do not hesitate to reinforce these practices for older dogs or puppies. If the temperatures drop sharply, limit the exposure of your dog to the outdoors. As soon as the temperatures are back to normal, your dog will be happy to resume his normal outdoor activities.


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