No one wants to spend the night shivering in their tent, and your canine companion likely doesn’t want to either! When you are camping with your dog it is important to keep their well-being in mind.
In order to this, consider how comfortable they likely are (or are not) in the current temperature and conditions. It is important to keep your pooch warm by packing the appropriate items, sharing your shelter, and even your body heat!
Just as you feel miserable when you are cold, pets feel the same way. Fortunately, many of the items you need to stay warm can work for your dog as well!
So, how do you keep your dog warm when camping?
There are several steps you can take to keep your dog warm when camping. One of the best things you can do is share your shelter and even cuddle to share body heat. This will help keep your pet warm as well as reduce stress. Also, having proper clothing such as a dog jacket, dog shoes, and dog blankets are a great way to keep your dog warm.
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Can Dogs Get Cold?
Dogs can get chilled just like we humans do. How quickly they are affected by the cold depends largely on their breed. However, their haircut can also play a role.
Some breeds can handle colder temps as they are bred for cold weather activities. Such is true with Alaskan Malamutes who are commonly used as sled dogs. Siberian huskies typically prefer cold weather too.
But dogs with thin coats and small dogs do not do well when the temperature drops. A chihuahua is a prime example of a warm-weather dog. Though you probably wouldn’t take a chihuahua camping, even larger athletic dogs can have thin coats. One such dog is the German Shorthair.
So how cold is too cold for your pooch? Generally, 45 degrees can be the tipping point for most cold adverse dogs. For those with thin coats, 32 degrees is the temperature at which a coat is required and that is 32 degrees actual temperature or “real feel”.
Temperatures at 20 degrees or below can just be too cold. Dogs’ paws can be susceptible to frostbite.
Dogs can also get hypothermia. Any temperature below 100 Fahrenheit is a sign of hypothermia as dogs temperatures usually range between 101 and 102.
You certainly don’t have to wait for these temperature marks to put a coat and boots on your pooch or bring them inside, instead monitor your dog.
Signs Your Dog is Cold
The temperatures above aren’t magic numbers and it isn’t like flipping a switch. Your dog can get cold quicker on certain days for a variety of reasons. Feeling chilled more easily could be due to their health or activity level.
Therefore, you should watch your pup for signs that they are cold, this includes:
- Crying and whining
- Acting anxious or pacing
- Moving slow or lethargic
- Cold to the touch
- Looking for a warm spot to curl up
- Holding one paw up
The last two symptoms mean your dog is probably beyond chilled and is downright cold. If your pet is exhibiting the last two symptoms it is time to go indoors.
Keeping the Chill at Bay
When you are camping, it may not be as simple as just going inside. Because of this, it is important to properly prepare your pooch.
- The Perfect Coat
The first thing you can try to keep your dog protected against the elements is a coat. Depending on how much fur he has, if you are wearing a thicker coat your dog will probably want a coat.
Some coats are thin while others are heavy-duty. The thinner varieties usually only have a small layer of warm material, like a flannel, and an outer shell.
The outer shell may or may not be waterproof. The entire coat is held on by straps with Velcro or snaps. There is one around the dog’s collar area and another around their chest. The coat only covers the dog’s back and sides from neck to hindquarters.
These are appropriate for cooler temperatures but likely not cold weather. Thicker coats can stand up to colder conditions.
These coats may be insulated with down and resemble your puffy winter jacket. The outside shell is usually waterproof. They can even have a hood and pockets.
These coats will probably use straps but they may also have sleeves. Some serious winter coats are full-body but will still allow your pet to use the bathroom.
No matter which type of coat you choose, be sure the straps and edges aren’t irritating to your pet. Additionally, make sure it is properly fitted before you head out. This way when you need it you won’t spend precious minutes trying to resize it.
- When to Use the Coat
Instead of waiting until your dog is showing signs of freezing, you can be proactive. You can do so by putting their coat on when you head out.
Your dog will likely let you know if they want it on or not. Tugging at the coat or trying to shake it off can mean they’re not cold enough for a jacket yet. Additionally, if they’re showing symptoms of overheating, like excessive panting, there is probably no need for a coat.
On the other hand, your dog can likely show you when he wants his coat on as well. If you attempt to take it off and he moves away, he may want his coat on.
If the coat becomes wet or your dog is overheating, then you should remove it. Outside of these two occurrences, your pet can wear their jacket and stay toasty warm.
The Carhart Chore Coat is a good moderate to chilly weather coat. It has a waterproof duck canvas shell and a warm quilted interior.
- Available in multiple sizes
- Has two pockets
- Corduroy trimmed collar
- Not ideal for very cold weather
The Didog Cold Weather Dog Warm Vest Jacket Coat is waterproof, windproof, and snow proof. This puffer vest provides great coverage to your dog’s back and chest.
- D-rings on outside of vest for leash attachment
- Full-zip may keep the coat on longer and keep dog warmer
- Polyester filled for warmth
- May fit awkward and dogs with a broad chest and narrow waist
Don’t Forget Boots!
Dog paws are susceptible to frostbite, abrasions, and general wear and tear. Boots can help protect the sometimes tender pads of your pet’s feet.
Though they may help in keeping your dog’s paws warm, this likely won’t be their primary function. Dogs’ paws are equipped with countercurrent heat exchange.
Similar to the fins of arctic seals the veins and arteries in the paws are packed closely together. When warm blood is delivered to the arteries the surrounding veins are subsequently warmed, moderating the temp of the paws quite well.
Though this trait is typically seen in dogs, how much of this trait they inherit and/or it’s efficiency can vary. Therefore, they can still benefit from boots.
The most important reason for boots in cold weather, however, is the protection of the dog’s pads. Hard crusty snow can cut their feet and if snow accumulates between the pads it can cause further injury.
Many boots have durable soles, like human shoes, a waterproof yet breathable shell, and a low gaiter with a strap or zipper. The boots should be durable but flexible. A soft liner or even socks can add warmth and help your dog feel more comfortable in the foreign objects strapped to his feet.
QUMY Dog Boots Waterproof Shoes for Dogs are almost entirely waterproof and non-slip. Their durable waterproof sole will keep your pooch protected.
- Reflective Velcro closure
- Split top design at the ankle to comfortably fit a wide range of dogs
- Not completely waterproof or sand proof
RUFFWEAR – Grip Trex boots have a Vibram outsole, making them extra durable over rough terrain. The breathable mesh keeps paws from overheating.
- Extra durable
- Wide opening with a cinch style closure fits most breeds
- Not waterproof
- Comes in a set of two
There are a couple of other items that cross the divide from human products to pet products. The first is blankets.
Many canines like to cuddle up with a blanket indoors even when they aren’t freezing. If they have their own blanket, bringing it camping can not only keep them warm but help them to feel more secure.
Cuddling up in the covers with your dog is a great way to share heat and bond.
The only problem with house blankets is that they may not be suited to the outdoors. This can be especially true if they get wet.
Keeping this in mind, you may want to consider a camping specific blanket. These blankets are usually lightweight and use special fabrics. They may have a waterproof side and a warm side. This is beneficial so you can shed moisture when wrapped up or use it as a picnic blanket with the waterproof side against the ground acting as a barrier.
Wool is another popular camping blanket material. It is lightweight, sturdy, and exceptionally warm even when wet.
This Ever Ready First Aid Olive Drab Green Warm Wool Fire Retardent Blanket will keep you toasty in cold conditions. Style after military blankets and is extremely durable.
- 80% wool traps your dog’s body heat
- Fire retardant
- Very large in size
- No waterproof backing
The DOWN UNDER OUTDOORS Large Waterproof Windproof Extra Thick Quilted Fleece Stadium Blanket is waterproof on one side and features a warm fleece on the other. It is extra-large to accommodate both you and your pet.
- Includes a zippered pocket
- Leakproof quilting
- Machine washable
- Includes stuff sack
- Not the thickest blanket
Body Type Doesn’t Matter
Speaking of cuddling up under the covers, sharing body heat can keep both you and Fido warm. When you go to sleep make sure you are near one another.
Dogs are surprisingly warm so snoozing side by side will help transmit your body heat and his to one another. Hopefully, this will keep you both comfortable throughout the night.
Not a Cuddler?
Whether it’s you or your dog who is averse to cuddling, never fear! A dog sleeping bag can be a good alternative. They are also great for summer camping trips when sharing a sleeping bag may get too warm.
Dog sleeping bags look and feel very similar to human sleeping bags. They generally have a smooth outer shell that can be waterproof. The bag is filled with a fluffy and warm fiber.
Unlike people sleeping bags, dog sleeping bags are circular or cocoon-shaped with a large opening for your dog to crawl inside. Some are even caves shaped so your pooch can get extra cozy. Top of the line bags can include a zipper, a baffle, and a thick bottom pad.
If sleeping bags are too constricting or too warm you may want to provide your pet with an outdoor dog bed. These beds are rather lightweight and portable, yet still comfy. They’re compact and can be squeezed into a travel bag or come with their own straps for carrying.
Once expanded their plush mattress keeps your dog off the ground, meaning it also keeps them much warmer. Typically they’re durable and easy to clean as well.
One such bag is the RUFFWEAR Highlands Dog Sleeping Bag. This sleeping bag is oval in shape and has a full zipper. The synthetic fill is very warm but also very easily compressed for travel.
- Integrated sleeve for a mattress pad
- Includes stuff sack
- Lightweight and compressible
- Bulky in size
- Could benefit from compression sack
The Hurtta Outback Dreamer comes in multiple sizes. Its circular shape is purposeful, allowing your pet to curl up. The heat-reflecting foil interior is sure to keep them extra toasty.
- Inner foil reflective lining
- Machine washable
- May not be warm enough for temperatures approaching freezing
Something to Curl Up With
Finally, your dog may like a hot water bottle when they turn in for the night. In addition to the water bottle itself, you also need a way to heat it.
Once you have heated your water bottle check that it is not too hot. You want it pretty toasty so that it will last but not too hot. Once you are satisfied, wrap it in a pillowcase, shirt, or towel so that it doesn’t come into direct contact with your dog.
They can then cuddle up with it, lay on it, or even sit on it to keep warm.
A great example is the Attmu Classic Rubber Transparent Hot Water Bottle 2 Liter with Knit Cover. It is anti-leak and insulated keeping your pet warmer longer. The knot cover is a cozy touch.
- Grid texture is safer for skin and reduces the likelihood of burns
- Transparent so you won’t overfill
- Not very large
The HomeTop Premium Classic Rubber Hot Water Bottle holds two liters of comforting water. It is made of one hundred percent natural rubber and is quite durable.
- Provides 3-4 hours of warmth
- Copper neck with stopper is leak proof
- Rubber smell may be strong upon opening
Clothing, bedding, and hot water bottles may certainly do the trick in keeping Fido warm, but there are two other less considered tips.
- An Absorbent Towel
When your dog gets wet they can get chilled much more easily. A wet dog can have a harder time warming up and can stay wet for a while in cold temperatures.
For this reason, pack a super absorbent towel. These towels are typically lightweight so you won’t have to be concerned with the extra bulk. They are also exceptionally good at sucking up water.
An absorbent towel can mean the difference between your dog being cold and miserable or warm, dry, and ready to continue on.
One fast-drying towel is the Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Travel Towel. It can absorb five times its weight in water, yet dry very quickly.
- Moisture and debris wicking
- Comes in three sizes
- Edges may fray after prolonged use
Increase Their Intake
Finally, you probably will want to pack some extra food, snacks, and treats for your pooch. In the colder months, it is typically recommended that you feed your dog a little less. This is due to the likelihood of lower levels of activity, ie fewer walks and less outside time, and therefore less calorie burning.
However, when you are camping you will hopefully be getting plenty of physical activity. Your dog will then need more high protein food and snacks rather than less. This will help keep their metabolism up and in turn, keep them warm.
These Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats Grain-Free Biscuits Crunchy Dog Treats are composed of thirty percent protein. They’re perfect for an on-the-go snack.
- Natural ingredients
- High protein may cause indigestion in some dogs
Keeping your dog active will help them to fight the chill. When necessary dressing them in a coat and boots can help.
When it is time to turn in for the night make sure you’re equipped with things like blankets and hot water bottles. As long as you closely monitor your pet and come prepared your dog will have an enjoyable and warm cold weather experience.
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