It might be cold outside but that doesn’t mean your outdoor adventures have to stop! Staying active year-round is good for everyone in the family, including your furry friend! Just like you have to bundle up for the winter weather there might be days where your dog needs a bit of extra protection as well but as long as you keep this in mind there is no reason that you should stop having fun or refrain from taking your dog with you on a Northern adventure. Enjoying winter activities with your dog can be a lot of fun and a great way to motivate yourself to keep moving and get outside.
Enjoying Winter Activities with your Dog.
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What Temperatures Are Safe For Dogs?
Enjoying winter activities with your dogs means paying attention to the daily temperatures and weather conditions. Although some dogs have lovely thick fur coats to help them out that doesn’t always mean they should be exposed to below freezing temperatures for lengthy periods of time and sometimes even thick-coated breeds need a bit of extra help!
Unfortunately figuring out exactly what temperatures are safe for your particular pet can be challenging to figure out! There is no magic number to follow as there are a lot of factors to take into account. There are however a few basic rules you can use to help you it out.
Like with people the very young and the very old are more susceptible to extreme temperature changes. If you have a tiny puppy or an elderly dog the range of temperatures they are comfortable in will be smaller and you should take extra care during both the cold and the hot months.
Smaller dogs tend to have a harder time regulating their body temperature as well, so they tend to have a smaller tolerance to cold than larger dogs.
The type of coat your dog has is also something to keep in mind Double coated breeds tend to fare better than short and thinly coated breeds. However, even double-coated breeds can have trouble if they are not used to the temperatures. A German Shepherd who has grown up in the South (like mine) might fair better in hotter weather but due quite poorly in extreme cold when compared to a dog that has grown up and became accustomed to the weather in the North.
The weather conditions should also be taken into account when enjoying winter activities with your dog – windy and wet weather is often harder to tolerate even if the temperature itself is not as low.
Although all of these factors should be taken into account there is a basic guideline you can follow here – PetPlan. Of course, you know your pet best and should always use your best judgment!
Signs Your Pet Might Be Too Cold
Your pet might be uncomfortably cold if they display the following signs while out in the yard or on a walk/hike.
- A Hunched posture with tail tucked
- Shaking and shivering
- Shelter seeking behavior
- Lifting paws off the ground
- Reluctance to keep walking
The followings signs are more serious and should be followed by a visit to your vet as they can mean that your pet was exposed to the cold long enough to become hypothermic.
- Lack of mental alertness
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle stiffness
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Fixed and dilated pupils
How to Warm Help a Chilled Pet
If you suspect that your pet might have become chilled while you were enjoying winter activities with your dog there are a few ways you can help them warm up either on the way to the vet or while you decide if a medical trip is necessary.
You should immediately wrap the animal in warm blankets. if you have access to a clothes dryer, towels warmed in the dryer can make for very useful blankets. Likewise, a hot water bottle (always wrap in a towel first to prevent skin burns!) or heating pad on a low setting tucked against the stomach of the dog can also help.
You should monitor your dog’s temperature (taken rectally) throughout this process. If your dog’s temperature is below 98 degrees you should go directly to the vet.
What Can Help Your Dog Through the Cold?
Thankfully, just like us our pets don’t have to live their lives at the mercy of the weather without help. If you find that your dog is uncomfortable with the changing weather or you plan on taking them with your on some northern adventures you can help them out with a few simple products!
Dog Jackets and Coats
Coats and clothing for dogs have come a long way from the fashionably cute but less functional items that used to be available. Companies like OneTigris (who also have a variety of working harnesses and hiking gear) creat cold-weather jackets that are not only well constructed but geared towards comfort and ease of movement which makes wearing them more comfortable for long term use!
OneTigris Bomber Style
The One Tigris Bomber style K9 Winter jacket is great for young dogs or dogs that might not want to stand still long enough to put on a more complicated form of outerwear. Like the majority of their products, this jacket was created with both durability and comfort in mind! It’s easy to adjust and quick to throw on and take off which makes it an excellent choice for a quick walk or bathroom breaks.
We also love the fact that it has two cute little pockets on the back which is great for carrying little baggies for clean-up or extra training treats. It also has a spot for a morale patch AND is machine washable which, considering how much my dogs love to roll in the dirt, is always a wonderful feature.
K9 Winter Jacket
While the bomber jacket is a great throw on and go option this one is a bit more complicated to put on (but not difficult) and provides a bit more comfort and warmth. This makes the K9 Winter Jacket a great option when you want to spend an extended amount of time outdoors in cold weather.
I love that it is wind, water, and stain-resistant which means I don’t have to worry quite so much if the weather is a bit on the nasty side rather then just cold. It also has a built-in harness function with a hidden D-ring which means I don’t have to fuss with excess gear when we go for walks. It’s super soft with a nice fleece lining and a pongee filling for comfort and warmth and the added leg straps make sure there is no slipping and your furry friend stay warm and cozy!
Like all of the OneTigris designs, this one is built with durability in mind and is made so that you and your pet can enjoy rough and tumble time outside without having to worry about your gear holding up.
Other Options For Enjoying Winter Activities with your Dog.
If you plan on taking your dog on a cold-weather camping trip you might consider investing in a Dog Sleeping Mat. Just like people one of the best ways to keep the chill out during winter camping trips is to keep some layer between you and the ground. This roll-up sleeping mat is an excellent option for camping because it’s easy to carry and store. It’s also created with water, grease and scratch-resistant materials. Better yet when you get home you can just toss it in the washing machine!
I have also found this mat useful in other situations. It makes an excellent seat protector for the back of the truck and can be used as a place training mat while out and about in public!
If you live in an area where they salt the roads or ice is always a problem then you might consider adding some paw protection to your winter gear. Road salt can be rough on a dog’s pads and ice always carries with it the chance for slipping!
Dog boots can help protect your dog from both problems but if your dog won’t tolerate them then there are some creams and waxes like mushers secret that can help soothe irritation to the pads themselves.
With a watchful eye from you and some helpful products then enjoying winter activities with your dog can be just as fun and active as the rest of the year for you and your furry companion!