Dogs are natural-born explorers. They love exploring the great outdoors just as much as we do!
And one thing that’s for sure is that if you’re looking for a place to go camping with your dog, there’s no better season than winter! After all, nothing beats taking your furry best friend camping in the middle of a fresh blanket of snow!
Whether you hike in the backcountry or camp at a nearby dog-friendly campground, your little fur friend will have plenty of fun during this adventure.
However, winter camping presents its own challenges. Not only does your pup run the risk of getting dry and cracked paw pads from being out in the cold all day, but they may also suffer from frostbite and hypothermia, which can be fatal.
So, it’s crucial to take the right precautions to ensure your dog remains as warm and safe as possible while they’re out on a winter camping trip with you.
And here are some of the tips I’ve put together that can help keep your furry camper warm and cozy and things you need to know during a winter campout!
1. Get Your Dog a Winter Jacket
One way to keep your pooch warm is by investing in a dog winter jacket. These coats usually have an inner fleece lining to provide insulation and warmth during the coldest of days. Typically made of water-resistant or waterproof material, they will go right over your fido’s regular collar and come with a leash hole where you can attach the leash.
Most dog owners may think that their dogs don’t need a winter jacket because they have fur to keep themselves warm. But what people don’t realize is that their dog’s fur isn’t always enough, especially out in the wilderness where the sun goes down, it gets dark, and temperatures drop rapidly.
And besides, with these jackets, not only are you giving your pup added warmth, but you’re also protecting their coat from getting wet or caked in the snow by keeping it dry underneath the outer shell of the jacket.
2. Bring Snow Booties for Your Pup
Aside from getting a jacket for your furry friend, another way you can keep them warm is by putting dog snow booties on them!
Not only can these booties protect your furkid’s paws from the cold ground, jagged ice, and other sharp objects, but they’ll also keep snowballs and ice balls from forming in your canine’s feet.
Footwear might not be the first thing on your mind when you’re looking for winter outdoor gear, but trust me, it’s an essential part of keeping your dog warm and comfy while they’re out on a winter camping trip with you. And this is especially true if you will be hiking through deep snow with your pup!
Read More: Does Your Dog Need Boots?
3. Keep Your Dog Hydrated
It’s easy to assume that our dogs don’t need as much water when it’s cold outside. However, this is not true. Dogs do lose water through breathing and urinating in cold weather still. And as such, they’ll need to be rehydrated with water as usual.
So make sure to bring along plenty of water because you don’t want to be in a situation where your fido has gone without enough fluids for too long. And you would also need to use a heated dog water bowl instead of the usual plastic bowls so that you can offer them fresh lukewarm drinking water.
4. Bring a Camping Tent That's Big Enough for Both You and Your Dog
You may have heard of doggie camping tents, which are designed explicitly for dogs. But rather than getting one of those, I highly recommend you use a camping tent that can accommodate both you and your pup.
The reason I say that is because even though your dog might be a rockstar explorer during the day, once night falls, they’re going to want nothing more than to curl up right next to you.
Plus, letting your dog sleep in the same tent with you is especially crucial during a winter campout, as you’ll both be able to stay close by and snuggle for warmth.
5. Don't Forget Your Dog's Blanket and Insulated Bed or Sleeping Bag
Not only is it crucial to bring a camping tent and set it up for you and your pup, but it is also vital to take along their blanket and heated outdoor bed. This way, they’ll be able to burrow down comfortably and stay warm while resting.
And that is especially needed for short-haired breeds such as Greyhounds, Dachshunds, Weimaraners, and other dogs who need a little extra something to stay warm during a winter camping excursion.
Also, don’t forget that a dog sleeping bag will do a great job of keeping your pup warm on chilly nights outdoors as well! Just make sure that the one you bring is designed explicitly for use in cold weather.
6. Be Mindful of What Your Dog Eat During the Winter Camping Trip
No matter where both you and your canine are during the winter, whether it’s across town, country, or at home, always keep in mind that dogs need more calories in general when the temperature drops. That is because their body needs to work harder to stay warm.
And one way you can give them an added boost of energy is by bringing along high-quality food for them to eat. Make sure it’s the one that’s rich in the nourishment they need to stay energized throughout their winter adventures, like protein, fats, and minerals.
7. Go for a Walk Before Bedtime
One of the best ways to prepare your dog for a long, restful night is by taking them on a nice-and-easy walk before they hit the sack.
Not only does this get your dog’s blood pumping and bring up their core temperature, but it can also help burn off some excess energy, which can, in turn, help them fall asleep more quickly and ensure they stay snoozing all night long.
And sure enough, if your furry friend sleeps soundly through the dark hours, they’ll wake up refreshed and ready to go on some more outdoor adventures!
How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?
We’ve gone through the gear needed to help keep dogs warm during a winter campout, but how cold exactly is too cold for them? Do they really need all the winter camping gear mentioned above to stay toasty?
Well, in general, most dogs can be out in 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
But pups bred for the cold weather like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes can tolerate temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning they probably won’t need a dog winter jacket. And canines who don’t have such thick coats, such as Greyhounds and Dachshunds, will be more sensitive to the cold and will surely need some protection.
Now, you see my point here? It really depends on your dog’s breed. Every dog is different, and each will react differently to cold weather. Some may be okay with it, while others may not.
There are also other things you need to consider, like your dog’s age and general health. Plus, wind chill can act as a multiplier, which will make your pup feel much colder.
So, it’s crucial to know your dog and what temperature your pup can handle during the winter season. If they aren’t built for subzero temperatures, it is best to bring a coat, blanket, and heated bed with you so your pup can sleep through the chilly nights.
Other Things You Should Also Know for Winter Camping With Dogs
While we’ve got the basics down of how to keep your pup warm and cozy when they’re out in the cold and at what temperature is too cold for them, here are a few more things you also should know.
1. Watch for Signs of Frostbite and Hypothermia
Regardless of the temperature, always watch out for signs of frostbite and hypothermia, as both are very dangerous.
If you notice your pooch is breathing at a lower rate, shivering, lack coordination, or have pale gums, dilated pupils, and feel pain when you touch a certain part of their body, that may be a sign they are suffering from either condition.
And if you suspect that’s what happened with your dog, bring them indoors and try warming them up with either a blanket, hot water bottles wrapped in towels, or a hairdryer immediately. Or rush them to a vet as soon as you can.
2. Take Advantage of Dog Hikes in Winter
When temperatures drop, dog hikes become a lot more fun and thrilling! That’s because dogs really enjoy being outdoors with their owners when it’s cold outside. And the best part is they get all the exercise they need from it!
Just make sure to keep an eye on your canine pal at all times so you know how long they can stay out in the cold before having to go inside for some warmth. Also, don’t forget about other winter safety precautions like bringing along a coat, leash, pet GPS tracking device, and whatnot.
3. Be Watchful of Snow Buildup Around Their Paws
Snow buildup and ice balls forming under your dog’s paws aren’t good. Not only does it cause discomfort and a significant amount of pain for your pup, but it can also lead to frostbite.
So, if you see your fido constantly trying to get rid of something from around their paws or if they’re moving unusually, the chances are that snow is stuck to their feet. In that case, bring them indoors and use a kitchen whisk to help scrape the pesky snow off. And, of course, you can also melt the ice crystals with a hairdryer.
The best way to deal with this is to prevent snow from accumulating around your dog’s paws in the first place. So get a pair of boots for them to wear while you’re out camping so no snow will get on their feet!
Cold weather camping can be a delightful experience for both you and your canine. But just as you wouldn’t go camping in extremely cold conditions without some gear, your pup also needs their own equipment.
So, make sure to provide your fido with the necessary winter gear and clothing to ensure they stay warm and cozy throughout their time outside. Follow these tips and tricks here, and your adventurous four-legged friend will be able to take on whatever winter throws at them and stay happy and healthy!