Dog Clothes are Just the Beginning to Winterizing Your Dog
Winter is rapidly approaching, and even though your dog has a built-in fur coat, your dog feels the cold just like you. Dogs like Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes were bred to serve as sled dogs in extremely cold, snowy and icy climates. But dogs like the “naked” Chinese Crested dog suffer intensely if left outside in cold weather and could even die from exposure. Perhaps your dog has a coat that’s somewhere in between these extreme examples. So let’s talk about what you can do to “winterize” your dog.
• Your dog needs a warm place to sleep. If you bring your dog into the house during cold weather, you may find her curled up and sleeping next to a fireplace or heating vent. If these things are not available for her, it’s best to give her a dog bed or crate that fits her size, and line it with warm blankets so she can protect her hairless underbelly by digging a nest in the blankets. Crates are ideal for indoor warmth because they’re like burrows – lined on all sides to keep in the warm air generated by your dog’s breathing.
• If your dog stays mostly outside during the winter, he needs constant access to a dog house, especially during inclement weather and on extremely cold days. The dog house should be just big enough for him to fit his whole body comfortably inside, and he should be able to stand up and turn around. Add a thick layer of stray on the bottom of the dog house, and over this, add several warm, heavy blankets. This lets your dog decide how cold he is; he’ll either arrange a padded space on top of the blankets, or burrow between the blankets for extra warmth. Choose a dog house with a door flap to keep warmth inside and snow outside. Most dog owners prefer houses made of wood; they hold warmth better than metal or acrylic houses.
• During his outside time, keep your dog warm by buying him some warm dog clothes and boots. Dogs lose body warmth through their foot pads and although she may initially resist wearing boots by acting as if some alien life form is attached to her feet, she’ll eventually get used to them an even look forward to the routine of “booting up. Keep your camera ready to shoot some hilarious video of your dog’s first time wearing her boots! Also consider buying your short-coated dog a warm dog clothes, like a coat or sweater. This helps her retain body warmth next to her skin. These garments come in all shapes and sizes; your best buy is a coat or sweater that covers your dog from the bottom of her neck to her tail and wraps around her belly and her chest.
• Make sure your dog has plenty of good food and exercise. Both of these generate energy that allows your dog to convert this energy to heat. Just think: when you’re outside in cold weather after a good breakfast, wrapped in your warm clothes, gloves and boots while having a great snowball fight with your friends, the exercise makes you feel much warmer. When you exercise your dog, he’ll feel much warmer walking briskly or jogging beside you.
• Okay, admit it: does your dog sleep on your bed? Nothing wrong with this if all parties agree to this arrangement. Some people turn down their central heating system at night because they wear warm pajamas and sleep under a heap of blankets. This makes your room a little chilly, so put down a warm blanket on the spot where your dog sleeps so she can snuggle into it and curl up for warmth. If you’re one of those wonderful dog lovers who lets the dog sleep under the covers with you, forget this tip. Everybody will sleep warm and soundly, though there’s a blizzard outside!
Just like your car needs antifreeze and a protective garage during cold weather, your dog needs dog clothes and needs to be “winterized” to stay warm and healthy. Remember, dogs are living creatures, not machines. Thousands of years ago, humans domesticated dogs to be their hunters, guardians, and companions. We owe it to them to protect them from wet, cold weather.