Although winter isn’t quite here yet the weather has gotten cooler, and you may be noticing your old dog isn’t tolerating the cold like he or she used to.
Red (RIP) found me when we were living in Florida, and loved the hot weather. Sometimes she would just sit outside in the sun and relax. We started spending several months of the year in England, and as she got older she became less and less tolerant of the cold. She wore a sweater much of the year (indoors and out!), and when it was really cold I added a coat for our walks.
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Here are my top tips to help ensure your dog is warm and toasty this winter.
1. Warm clothing
While I don’t like when people dress their dogs up like dolls, when it comes to keeping them warm, sweaters and coats are a must. There are lots of styles so it might be a case of trial and error to find the one your dog feels comfortable in, and that’s easy to put on.
The only style coat I buy has a velcro tab under the neck, and another under the stomach. It is the most comfortable for my dogs, and the easiest to put on and off. For those of you in really cold climates, leggings and one/two piece outfits cover more of the arms and legs than a regular sweater.
Helpful tip – if it’s safe to put the sweater in the dryer, why not put it on low for a couple of minutes so it’s nice and warm for when your dog goes out. I’m stating the obvious but I’m afraid I have to in these days and times – be careful it’s not too hot so she doesn’t get burned or is in anyway uncomfortable.
Crochet a dog coat
I admit I loved buying Red sweaters and coats, but that’s because she wore them all the time so why shouldn’t she be fashionable! The problem is that can get quite costly, so I found a better solution. I still bought her sweaters, but I crocheted her coats. Not only did I enjoy it, I was able to make them quickly and cheaply.
I’m no expert but it was super easy, so why not give it a try. This is the video I used and then I got a bit creative. Sometimes the body was one colour the collar another, I put 2 different colour yarns together and did the whole coat like that or used one of the colours for the collar. You can sew sequins or buttons on it and make it unique. Who knows, people may love them so much you’ve just created a business for yourself making made to order doggie coats!!
The picture above is of Jack wearing one of my creations, following the instructions on the video I linked to. I made it in one evening, but he is a small dog.
2. Where does your dog sleep
Wherever your dog sleeps, make sure there is no draught or cold air coming from a vent. If you don’t tend to keep the heat on all night, a small portable heater will keep her warm.
3. Wrap her up!
I know plenty of people who like to keep their bedroom window open in the winter, so if that’s where your pup sleeps put a fleece blanket or two on her bed so she can wrap herself up if she’s cold. A sweater may help as well, it certainly did for Red, but make sure it’s not a hoodie or something with strings she can get tangled up in.
4. Keep the bed warm
Add an electric pad to her bed, or if that option makes you nervous like it does me, a self heating mat will do. A hot water bottle works well too but don’t let it touch her skin. Sorry I know that was obvious!
5. Don’t let your dog freeze outside
If your dog spends a lot of time in the yard, please get her some sort of shelter and insulate it with straw so she has a warm place to go. It doesn’t matter if you build it yourself or get a ready made one, the main thing is she has protection. It should have an overhang so snow and rain do not get in, a sloped roof and heating.
No matter what the weather you dog still has to stay hydrated. That can be challenging in the winter when the water in her bowl will freeze in no time. You can buy electric bowls that will prevent the water from freezing. A DIY method is to set up a tire in a spot that gets the sun, but is close to the shelter. Put rocks inside then a wide bowl or shallow pail in the middle, and add rocks until they almost reach the rim. The tire and rocks should retain some of the heat from the sun, and keep the water from freezing for a few hours. You still need to check at least twice a day to make sure your dog has water.
If your dog lives outside, maybe you can make an exception and bring her in to join the family when it’s cold out. I know quite a few senior dog parents have mentioned their old dogs seem to like spending time outside, even in the winter. If they are truly happier, make sure you do everything you can to keep them warm.
6. Elevate the bed off a cold floor
Hardwood, concrete and tile floors can be cold in the winter, so if your dog’s bed is on that type of flooring put carpet squares, towels or blankets underneath to elevate it.
My husband loves Jack long and scruffy, but I like the shaved look! Although your dog’s grooming needs don’t change just because the weather does, consider leaving her hair longer in the winter.
8. Don’t let your dog out if she’s wet
I’m sorry if some of what I say is obvious to you, but there are lots of first time dog parents who are getting used to having a dog and all that entails…no pun intended.
Anyway, if you do give your dog a bath at home, make sure she is completely dry before she goes out. If your dog lets you use a blow dryer, a very low setting is best. Jack won’t go near a blow dryer, too noisy for him, but he loves being dried off with towels so I turn it into a massage/bonding session and he couldn’t be happier.
9. Paw protection
If there is snow and ice where you live, booties will protect your dog’s paws from the cold and salt. If she won’t wear them (like mine won’t!!), give these leggings a try. If all else fails, paw wax will at least protect your dog’s paws from salt. At least for Red it did!!
10. That frozen lake may not really be frozen
Looks can be deceiving and deadly! Don’t go near frozen lakes or ponds, because they may not actually be frozen.
How do you keep your dog warm in the cold? Sharing helps others so tell us your tips in the comment section below.