How to Care for Your Dog in Winter

Whether it’s playing with their favourite ball, experiencing new and interesting smells, or even playing with other dogs, most of our pups love heading outside and going on walks. During the milder months, taking your dog outside might seem like a fairly hassle-free task. However, when the dark nights draw in, the temperature begins to drop and the harsh weather begins, safely walking dogs in winter, or even letting them out in the garden, can require much more preparation than any other time of year. From making sure they don’t get too cold, to keeping them in sight in the dark, as well as staying clear of potential dangers, there’s a lot to consider before heading out into the cold with your furry companion. On top of that it’s also important to keep your dog warm indoors, which can often see pet owners purchasing a suitable dog bed, along with taking various other steps to keep them as healthy and comfortable as possible.

From heading outdoors to staying inside, ensuring your dog stays warm during the colder seasons is crucial - as our furry companions can get just as cold as we do! Whether it’s getting prepared with the right gear to head outdoors or making sure your pup is comfortable inside, read on and find all the advice you need on how to care for your dog in winter, as well as a range of appropriate product recommendations from Direct4Pet, including suitable winter dog coats and beds.

How cold is too cold for dogs?

During summer, making sure that the ground isn’t too hot for your dog is an obvious precaution, with vets and other animal organisations issuing warnings surrounding this every year. But, when it comes to walking dogs in winter, an issue that isn’t covered as much, is that it can often get too cold to take your dog outside. Typically, as an advisory guideline, pet owners shouldn’t walk their dog in temperatures below 20°F (around -6°C). According to Pet MD, anything below this temperature guideline is when your furry friend becomes much more susceptible to developing serious, cold-induced illnesses, including hypothermia and frostbite. However, the signs of dangerous cold weather don’t stop at temperatures either, it’s also important to look to your pup directly for signs that they aren’t comfortable in the cold. Common signs to look out for include shivering, slowing down, or showing any other unusual, out of the ordinary behaviours. If this is the case, it’s best to start heading home and focusing on regulating your pet’s temperature.

How long can dogs stay out in the winter?

If you’re looking to let your dog out in the garden during cold temperatures, you should monitor them closely. Similar to when you’re on a walk with them, keep a close eye out for symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, or even general signs indicating that they might be ready to head back inside. Limits should also be placed on how long they’re outdoors. This should typically be no longer than 10-15 minutes when the temperature drops below freezing. Again, the same applies if they're out on a walk as it’s better to be on the safe side and save longer walks for much milder days.

Are dogs ok outside in the winter?

As long as the temperature doesn’t get too cold your dogs are usually fine to go outside in the winter. However, there are a number of additional precautions you should be taking for cold, rainy, and snowy weather, compared to milder conditions. When preparing for the cold weather as a pet owner, a good place to start is by investing in a well-insulated and waterproof winter dog coat to give your pup that extra heat while outside, whether they’re out in the garden or going on a walk. It might also be worth purchasing a drying coat for when they come back indoors after being outside for a while in cold, wet conditions.

The best winter dog coats

Henry Wag Waterproof Dog Warm Coat Clothing - All Sizes - £24.59

dog coat

From Chihuahuas to Labradors, this waterproof dog coat from Henry Wag is available at Direct4Pet in an extensive range of sizes to fit a wide variety of breeds. Arguably, one of the most important winter essentials for pups, this convenient accessory allows owners to properly exercise their dogs and take them for longer walks during bad weather, thanks to an extra layer of insulation to keep them warm. Designed to also be completely breathable, the Henry Wag insulated winter dog coat has been purposely made to comfortably fit all types of dogs. And, with the colder months often bringing reduced visibility, the side of this coat also has a reflective stripe, so you’re able to keep a close eye on your dogs at night if they’re on a longer lead.

Henry Wag Drying Coat For Dogs - All Sizes - £29.59

dog drying coat

Perfect for wet winter walks, the Henry Wag Drying Coat works to remove water and dirt from your mucky pup, all while drying them quickly to help provide warmth and comfort. Ideal for using after cold winter dog walks, the premium microfibre in this dog drying towel absorbs water from your dogs fur, allowing them to get comfortable and stay fresh for longer. Easy to put on and take off your furry friend, the drying coat also features a simple strap, designed to hold securely in place.

How do I know if my dog is cold at night?

Despite it usually being colder outside, it’s also important to ensure your dog is warm inside through the night.

Often, your pup will show visible signs that it’s too cold, much like those listed above. These tend to include shivering, hunching over, whining, anxiousness, or any other changes in behaviour that seem out of character for your furry friend. And, with rising heating bills, it might be increasingly difficult to have your heating on for long periods of time during winter, so ensuring that there are enough alternatives to keep your dog warm through the night is an excellent way to monitor their comfort.

While an easy solution to warming up your furry friend throughout the day is to get them running around with a bone, cuddly toy, or other indoor toy from our wide range of dog toys at Direct4Pet, you’ll have to reconsider your options when it comes to night time. And, when it’s time for your pup to go to bed, investing in a comfortable and well-insulated dog bed, and even a blanket, would be an easy, affordable recommendation to provide warmth through the night. Depending on your type of dog breed, a dog blanket is also particularly beneficial for preventing small or short haired dog breeds from getting too cold, as they don’t have the same winter coats that many long-haired breeds benefit from.

The best winter dog beds

Rosewood Grey Jumbo Cord/Plush Oval Dog Bed - £16.59

dog bed

Designed to offer a cosy, enclosed cocoon filled with a luxuriously soft inner lining bound to keep your pup warm, this Rosewood Grey winter dog bed is perfect for owners looking to keep their pup comfortable as those cold nights draw in. Featuring a stylish appearance with cord on the outside, this lavish winter dog bed will fit alongside any modern interior, allowing dog owners to keep dog cosy, while blending seamlessly in your living space.

Scruffs Ellen Luxury Mattress Dog Bed - Large - £37.99

Luxury Dog Mattress

The perfect winter dog bed for larger breeds, the Scruffs Ellen luxury mattress bed may also be suitable for older dogs, as the plush ‘mattress-like’ lining provides more cushion to help bring comfort to any areas of discomfort. Lined with a textured faux fur, this super cosy dog bed offers comfort and warmth to your furry friends this winter.

While boasting a stylish appearance to elevate a living space, the Scruffs Ellen luxury dog bed also benefits from a 100% recycled polyester filling, making it a perfect choice for eco-conscious pet owners.

However, since this dog bed doesn’t benefit from an enclosed, cocoon design, pet owners may find that their dog is still showing signs of being cold. If this is the case, at Direct4Pet, we would advise placing a cosy dog blanket too. Effortlessly soft, many of our dog blankets, such as our Scruffs Comfort Soft Cosy Snuggle Blanket, feature a faux fur side to use when it gets cold, and a faux suede on the other side for when it’s warm - keeping your pup comfortable all year round.

Tips for walking dogs in the winter

While we’ve touched upon brief advice on when you should and shouldn’t consider walking your furry friends, there are a number of other useful tips that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re preparing to take your dog out on a walk in the cold weather. After all, it’s better to be over-prepared and on the safe side than to compromise your dog’s health by not considering how to keep them safe when facing harsh winter weather. Below are a list of tips to keep your dog healthy and comfortable in freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, and even snow!

During the walk:

  • Keep your dog visible - Cold, winter conditions often come hand in hand with dark nights and reduced visibility. From fog to heavy snow, you might not be able to see even a few steps in front of you when it gets bad. Therefore, as well as bringing a torch with you when heading out in the evening, we advise making your dog visible by purchasing a reflective collar or lead. And, whether you’re walking them during the day, or at night, this should be worn whenever visibility is reduced. This Flexi New reflective dog lead is designed in a bright neon colour and offers bright reflective side panels, so not only are you keeping your dog close, but it means that drivers and other pedestrians will be able to see your pup coming.
  • Stay clear of frozen lakes - If the route you take includes a lake and your dog usually goes for a swim, cold temperatures often mean it will have frozen over, or it might be too cold for your dog to swim. Therefore, you should encourage them to stay away from the water (bring along more treats than usual if needed!). But, if you find that your pup shoots off as soon as they see water, keep them on a much shorter lead when nearby.
  • Avoid Antifreeze - Dogs are naturally curious creatures and will smell, or lick, anything that seems interesting to them. But you should always keep them away from Antifreeze. With a sweet taste to dogs, this can often seem like an appealing treat to them. However, if your dog has licked this substance, it can be fatal, so keep a close eye on them and look out for symptoms of Antifreeze poisoning, which include drooling, drinking lots of water, vomiting, panting and seizures. If you find yourself in the situation where your dog has come into contact with this liquid, even if they don’t appear to be ill, Direct4Pet would advise you take them to the vet as soon as possible.

After the walk:

  • Keep your dog dry - Whether you’ve returned from a walk, or your dog has just come in from the garden, dry them down thoroughly with a dog towel before they go to lie down, ensuring all traces of wet on their fur are removed. If you own a long-haired breed, it might be better to give their fur a quick blow dry. And, when your furry friend goes to have a rest after walks, they should have a warm, dry area of the home to return to, and pet owners should offer extra blankets if needed to keep them as comfortable and warm as possible.
  • Check for grit, salt or snow in their paws - Another crucial step after returning from walks, take the time to gently check your dogs paws for any traces of salt, grit or snow. If you do find any, carefully remove these by rinsing your furry friend’s paws with warm water, which will help to prevent any pain, irritation or discomfort from occurring later on.

Winter Dog Coats & Beds at Direct4Pet

From making sure you have a suitable winter coat for your dog, to searching for a reflective lead when the harsh winter conditions bring reduced visibility, we hope you’ve picked up tips on how best to care for your dog during the winter, including guidance on what to bring on walks, as well as how to keep them warm during the night. Don’t forget to browse our full range of dog toys, leashes, winter dog beds and travel gear to find everything you need to prepare for the chilly winter months ahead.