Protecting your dog from the cold: four tips

Summer is really over and the days are shorter and colder. Not only we, but also our pets notice that the days are colder. By dressing warmly, staying active and arming house and garden against the cold (read: heating on sauna position) we humans get through the winter. But how can you protect your dog from the cold? And can dogs actually stand the cold? Read in this article how you can help your pet stay warm.

The winter tips at a glance

  1. Walk more often, but shorter.
  2. Protect your dog’s paws when walking.
  3. Watch out for road salt.
  4. Get a good diet.

Tip 1: Go for a walk more often, but shorter

Our first advice to protect your dog from the cold is to walk your dog more often, but shorter. It is important that your dog continues to exercise during the cold winter months and that he or she can go outside often enough to relieve himself. When it is very cold outside, it may be wise to take shorter walks than usual. Also keep moving.

It is also smart to adjust the times when you walk your dog to the temperature. For example, go outside when it is slightly less cold, and go for a 5-10 minute walk six to eight times a day. Depending on what suits your own schedule.

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Tip 2: protect your dog’s paws

When it is cold outside and there is snow, you can rub the soles of your dog’s feet with special tar a little while before walking. This is available from the vet. Ordinary Vaseline (acid-free without added fragrances) is also possible. This ensures that snow does not stick as well. But watch out! Do not put too much Vaseline on the soles of your feet, as this can be counterproductive.

It can also help to cut the hairs between the pads on the sole of the foot short, so that snow does not stick as quickly. Does snow still stick to the soles of your dog’s feet after walking? Then rinse it off with lukewarm water (not too hot!) or a dry cloth.

Are you planning to go to extremely cold places and take your faithful companion with you? Then there are special dog shoes that protect the soles of the feet against the cold.

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Tip 3: Watch out for road salt

Something you may not think of first when you want to protect your dog for the winter: road salt. However, road salt can be very bad for your dog’s health. An amount of 2 grams per pound can be deadly, according to dog trainers. Road salt is especially dangerous for small dogs. So make sure that they do not lick this and rinse the paws with lukewarm water after walking.

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Tip 4: Make sure you have a good diet

A good diet can also help protect against the cold. In the winter months, your dog needs more calories to maintain its body temperature. Give your dog slightly larger portions than usual. Are you unsure about how much extra food you should give? Please contact the vet, he or she can best estimate how much extra food your dog needs. This differs greatly per dog breed and whether it is a puppy or an adult dog.

Other tips:

  • Do you have a small dog or does he suffer from the cold? Then put on a coat when walking and/or special dog shoes.
  • Do not let the dog walk on the ice.
  • Make sure the dog does not lick the ice.
  • Do not wash your dog with shampoo* during the winter months (this can affect the natural oil layer of the hair, making the coat no longer water-repellent).
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Do you notice that your dog vibrates violently after or during a walk, plays less than usual and gives you less attention? Then your dog may be dealing with hypothermia*. It is not easy for a dog to become hypothermic. But it can occur with too long exposure to severe cold.

Possible symptoms of a dog’s hypothermia include shivering, confusion, shallow breathing, skin discoloration (from pink to white), drowsiness, lethargy, weakness, and a low body temperature. Does your dog have these symptoms? Then it is necessary to act quickly. Hypothermia can have serious consequences such as going into shock, coma or worse. Wrap your dog in a dry cloth and rub it slowly to stimulate circulation and call the vet right away. Note: make sure your dog warms up, but in phases. For example, do not immediately put your dog under a warm shower or bath, but take a warm cloth from the dryer or place a hot water bottle (with a blanket in between) on his stomach.

*The normal body temperature of a dog is approximately between 38 and 39 degrees. This may be slightly higher for puppies. In puppies, the average temperature is 39.5. Hypothermia in a dog means that the body temperature drops below normal.

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Do you need to protect every dog ​​from the cold?

Some animals can withstand the cold better than others. Take a rabbit, Husky or Siberian tiger, just to name three examples. In this article we will therefore limit ourselves to one of the most common pets: the dog. There is of course also some difference between different dog breeds when we talk about the ideal temperature. For example, some breeds of dogs are better equipped against the cold than others. Like the aforementioned Husky. Often this resistance to the cold depends on the length and density of the coat.

In addition to the natural resistance to cold, there are also personal preferences. This is somewhat similar to humans; you have people who prefer to be in 40 degrees or warmer, and you also have people who prefer to live in winter temperatures all day long. However, you will notice soon enough which temperature your pet likes.


The winter months may be cold, but not all doom and drool because of it. Many dogs (and people) enjoy playing in the snow with their owners and other dogs. With a little attention to the body temperature of the dog, this is no problem at all. Playing with a dog is only good for the bond! And admit it, it might be less fun for keeping your house clean: but it does look a lot of fun when your dog has been rolling in the snow!

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