When the temperatures start dropping, you’ll likely find yourself keeping the windows closed, pulling out some extra blankets, and craving comfort food. All these things help you weather winter better. Even though they have fur, you may wonder, do dogs get cold at night? The short answer is yes, they can, just like you, if you’re in a drafty room or outside in the elements.
Dogs are usually pretty good at letting their owners know what’s up with them. You certainly know when they’re hungry. But is it just as easy to tell if your pup is uncomfortable? Let’s discuss how canines stay warm and how to know if it’s working or not.
How Dogs Stay Warm
Canines and other animals instinctively do some of the same things to fight off the chill, whether it’s during the day or night. That’s one reason why a dog curls up into a ball when it sleeps. He’s trying to trap his body heat like a comforter. Pups with bushy tails will wrap them around their head to keep their ears and nose warm, too.
Of course, cold tolerance varies with the breed. Siberian Huskies do just fine if the temperature drops. They’ll even sleep in the snow! That’s not the case with breeds that don’t handle it as well, such as American Bulldogs and Pugs. The latter lacks the double coat that provides added insulation. The next question is how to tell what your pet is feeling.
Signs That Your Pup Is Comfortable
A content dog will behave normally. He’ll be attentive and fall his usual routine. He’ll sleep his normal 8–13.5 hours a day. Your pup will enjoy his regular meals with a good appetite. Nothing is distracting your pet or getting in the way of his well-being. It’s safe to assume that the ambient temperature is within his comfort zone.
Signs That It’s Too Cold
A dog that is cold will show many of the signs that people do, so his body language is easy to read. The obvious clue is shivering. Its purpose is to try to raise his temperature through the heat that this muscle action produces. You'll notice your pup’s discomfort through behavioral changes. He may try to get into your lap or snuggle close to you. He may look for someplace to cuddle and find warmth.
If the situation doesn’t improve, your pet will become more agitated, particularly if he has frostbite. Your pup may lift his paws off the cold ground if contact becomes painful. You’ll also see a definite change in your dog’s body posture. He’ll look as if he’s in distress.
Hypothermia in Dogs
The symptoms we listed above are the warning signs for hypothermia. Your pup’s distress will morph into lethargy. He may act confused and out of it. Your pet’s body will go into survival mode to conserve energy that can keep him warm. Your dog may become unresponsive with a shallow breathing rate. Muscle stiffness often occurs before collapsing. It is a life-threatening condition for dogs and people.
Keeping Your Pet Toasty Warm
Let’s switch gears to a more positive note for keeping your best friend warm and comfortable. You can rely on your instincts about whether someplace is too cold or not. If it feels chilly to you, the chances are that your dog thinks so, too. After all, drafts can bother your pet just as much as you. The things you do to prep your home for winter will benefit you both.
A bed with bolstered sides will go a long way toward keeping your pooch warm enough. It’s like an extra comforter with his coat trapping in the heat, too. Another option is a raised bed. The advantage of these products is that the space between the bottom and the floor adds another layer that is warmed by your pup’s body heat.
You can also take it to the next level and get your dog a heated bed. Some products use materials like Mylar to reflect your pup’s heat back to him. Other options are the real deal with a plug-in heater. If you go this route, make sure that the cord is chew-resistant or that the design takes similar precautions to protect your pet.
Finally, you can offer your pup the ultimate in comfort and let him hop into bed with you. You can share body heat so that you both can stay toasty warm. You’ll find yourself in good company, with 65 percent of pet owners making the same choice. Over 30 percent even prefer cozying up to their dogs and cats over their partners!
Some people think that dog coats and sweaters are silly. While some of the designs have us scratching our heads, we can see their practical side if you have a small pup, such as a Maltese. Your pet will appreciate the extra layer on evening walks. If it’s snowy where you live, you might consider adding some boots, too. They can protect your dog’s paws against sharp ice shards and road salt.
Fuel in the Tank
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your dog stays warm at night is to make sure he has plenty to eat. Of course, that means feeding the appropriate amount for your pup’s weight and life stage. A by-product of metabolism is heat, which will keep the fire burning throughout the overnight. However, it’s not an excuse to give your pup more food. The chances are that he’s burning fewer calories.
Dogs and humans share many traits, including whether we get cold at night. Our canine friends experience many of the same things we do when the temperature drops. Fortunately, keeping ourselves comfortable will also help our pets. Other options, such as beds, pet clothing, and a healthy diet, are more things you can use to support your pup’s comfort. And there’s always sharing your bed, too.