That is the common misconception people have about their dogs. They think the fur on their dog is enough to keep them warm all the time. Well, fur is not enough especially when you take your dog camping.
Your dog will get cold from the cool night air as well as from the damp ground moisture that just takes the body heat away.
To protect your dog from becoming cold when you are camping just continue reading our article. It has information about ‘how to keep your dog warm while camping‘ to help you keep your dog nice and warm.
Can dogs get hypothermia or frostbite when camping in chilly cold days?
There is no sense beating around the bush on this question.
Your dog’s body is not immune to hypothermia or frostbite when the weather turns cold. They will contract those ailments if not given the proper protection.
The normal body temperature for a dog is between 101 and 102.5 degrees F. When that temperature dips to the same level as your average temperature, 98.5, then your dog is experiencing hypothermia.
The good news is that there are ways to protect your dog from getting either ailment:
1. Know your dog breed – some dog breeds can handle the cold better than others. For example a malamute has thick fur that helps keep the cold away from their bodies. Where as a chihuahua does not have enough fur to do the same thing.
2. Keep your dog dry – in the winter your dog can still get wet through melting sow, light rains and so on. Make sure to dry your dog off before they get too cold and their body temperature drops.
3. Keep them inside more – you do not like being cold neither does your dog. Keep them in the tent with you so that they stay warmer
4. Don’t leave your dog in a cold car – that may be a safe place for them but it is not safe from the cold.
5. Feed your dog more – this won’t have hem gain weight but help them produce the body heat they need to remain warm.
Can dogs camp in cold weather?
The answer to this question is also positive. Yes, they can camp in cold weather but there are some requirements you need to meet before taking your dog out into the cold for the weekend.
1. If your dog is an indoor dog, do not have them sleep outside the tent or in a cold car. You need to keep them warm at night.
2. Bring a fleece or wool blanket along on your trip jus for your dog to snuggle in to keep warm.
3. Put a doggy coat on them to make sure their bodies are protected from the cold. This needs to be done day or night.
4. Bring some doggy shoes along for the trip. These will help keep your dog’s paws warm and let their special circulation system function normally.
5. Provide a camping tent for the dog or a special shelter where they can remain free from the cold.
How cold is too cold for dog camping?
This will depend a lot on the breed of your dog.
Smaller dogs have a harder time in the cold than larger ones. One thing is for sure though, puppies should be kept away from the cold as much as possible.
But the large dog rule doesn’t always apply as many medium to large dog breeds have short hair and that lack of fur means they need help staying warm when the weather dips.
There is a scale you can follow to help guide your actions towards your dog when the weather starts turning cooler.
For small dogs, including tiny Yorkshire Terriers when the temperature gets to 40 degrees F and lower, then you need to take extra steps to keep your pet warm.
That lower boundary for medium, dogs comes in at the same temperature mark as small dogs and 20 degrees F is life threatening.
For larger dogs, they can go down to 35 degrees F before you need to start to worry.
Life threatening for larger dogs starts at 10 degrees F.
It is a good rule of thumb to follow even if you have along with haired dog that loves the outdoors.
Why you should keep your dog warm?
There are lots of reasons why you should keep your dog warm as much as possible. Of course, keeping them warm does not mean letting them overheat.
You will need to balance the temperatures a little bit as too much heat for dogs is almost as bad as too little heat.
Here are some of the reasons why you should keep your dog warm:
1. They are better pets- the dog recognizes that you are taking care of them and respond in a positive manner towards you and your family
2. They have a better quality of life- the warmth protects their joints and vital organs so that they can play better and be better watchdogs
3. They are healthier- the cold air can give them different sicknesses including hypothermia and keeping them warm saves on vet bills, medication and other personal care they will need till they recover
4. Their paws work better- by that it is meant that the special circulation that helps their paws stay warm in cold weather is kept in to running order and your dog’s feet do not get cold.
5. It is the right thing to do- you do not like being cold and have a hard time functioning in that cooler weather. So does your dog. Treating your dog right is the best thing to do for your pet
Tips to keep your dog warm in winter camping
It pays to get and listen to tips on many different aspects of life. You never know when one of those tips will come in handy and spare you extra expenses and trouble. The same goes for tips on how to keep your dog warm while camping:
Feed them a little more
The extra calories will help your dog generate more body heat and they may need up to 2 or 3 times the extra calories when outdoors at the campsite.
Use hot water
Place this or warm water in a hot water bottle, wrap the bottle in a shirt and place it next to your dog
Get a doggy sleeping bag
There are companies that make these and they are a good addition to your camping gear when you want your pet along with you. Even a dog pad will help out a lot
Snuggle or cuddle with your pet
Letting your dog sleep next to you is a big help in keeping them and you warm throughout the night. That is what camping is all about, a little togetherness.
Keep your dog dry
If it is raining out, don’t let your dog leave the tent. Or dry them off as quickly as possible so that your dog’s bones do not get chilled.
Warning Signs of When Your Dog Is Getting Too Cold
Like every other negative aspect of life, there are warning signs letting you know that your dog is too cold and you need to take the appropriate action.
With some dogs, these warning signs may be hard to distinguish from their normal routine but they let you know there is a problem and you need to find the source of that problem:
- Your dog sleeps a lot- this is usually done more than your dog would normally sleep and not after some heavy physical activity
- Your dog curls up a lot- this is a dog’s way of using their body heat to help them stay warm. Too much of this will tell you that the temperature is too cold for your pet
- Whimpering & Whining- this may be hard to tell from the whimpering they do when they see you eat something they think smells good. But if they whimper, etc., while lying down you know they are cold
- Very restless- your pet is letting you know that they cannot find a warm spot to relax. They are always seeking some short of shelter from the cold temperatures.
Cold weather camping gear for dogs
Dog products manufacturers have finally caught on that dogs need their own camping gear when the weather turns cold in the mountains or out in other parts of nature. They have designed many different products to help make your dog’s camping trip more fun for them:
1. Dog sleeping bags- they are as insulated as yours and help keep the cold away from your pet
2. Dog jackets- these are insulated as well and provide another level of cold protection on top of their fur.
3. Dog paw balm- this balm just needs to be rubbed into your dog’s paws up to 3 times each week and the beeswax and vitamin E ingredients help your pet’s paws stay nice and warm
4. Dog fur cape- pamper your pet with this fake fur cape that covers their body when they are not running through the snow
5. Dog vest or sweater- Similar to the dog coat, these may not cover your dog’s body fully but they do help them stay warmer.
How to keep a dog warm in a tent?
This is not going to be that difficult of a task to do, especially if you are using a larger tent than a normal tent.
With the space inside, you can make a nice spot for your dog, so that they have their own bed and pad protecting them from the ground moisture and the damp air that descends at night.
We have already mentioned other methods you can use to help keep your dog warm at night inside your tent.
A good fleece or warm blanket will help a lot; snuggling with them in your own bed is good as well; make sure your tent has a heat source and keep it turned up to a reasonable heat level.
Or you can let them cuddle together if you have more than one dog along for the trip.
The ways to keep your dog warm in a tent are endless and your creativity should be able to come up with a lot of innovative ways to protect your pet from the cold.
#1. Do large dogs handle cold cold weather better than small dogs?
Most do. Breeds like St. Bernards, Huskies, and similar large dogs have an advantage over smaller ones and can tolerate the cold better.
Their large layers of fur help keep them nice and warm plus they generate more body heat than smaller dogs do.
But there are always exceptions to the rule and large dogs with short hair fur do not handle the cold as well as their long hair counterparts.
They need a little help in staying warm and the above-mentioned coats, sleeping bags, blankets and paw pads go a long way in achieving that goal.
The key to keeping your dog warm is to know your dog and know he or she well. Some dogs just love being outdoors even though the temperature is too cold for them.
Be careful and restrict their time outside till the weather warms up.
#2. What temperature does my dog need a coat?
This will change according to the breed of dog you own and your individual dog’s size. Smaller dogs usually do not need help with a coat until the thermometer hits 45 degrees F or a little bit lower.
Medium-sized dogs, like cocker spaniels, need the same protection at about the same temperature level. You may be able to go to 40 degrees F but that would be the extent of it.
For large dogs, they need a coat when the thermometer reaches 35 degrees F. Of course, each dog is different and these measurements are not written in stone. Play it by ear and see how your dog reacts when outside.
If they are shivering then you know they need a coat even when the temperature is slightly above those marks.
Some final words
Keeping your dog warm when camping or when winter comes is not a difficult task to perform. Just follow the advice given above and your dog will be thanking you for taking such good care of them.
Your dog is yours and your family’s best friend so making sure they are warm is the least you can do for them in return for their unconditional love.