Keeping your dog cozy this winter season!

BRRRRRR! It’s cold out there! And unless your dog is of husky or arctic dog breed lineage, they will feel that chill too! Let us all bundle up in our sweaters and blankets and bunker down until the milder above 30 degree temps arrive (randomly next week is forecasted at… 40 degrees! CRAZY WARM for WINTER in MN!!!)

So how do you keep your dog cozy during the winter season, especially when the temps are below freezing? See below!

But first…
Let’s talk winter temperatures!

Water freezes at 32 degrees, which means temps under 32 degrees are considered freezing temperatures. Average temp for January in MN is in the teens, with lows in the single digits. (This doesn’t account for any wind! Adding wind = windchill = VERY COLD!) Which means we are all frozen popsicles for the month haha! February holds similar averages though a titch warmer in the 20s on average. March bumps us to 30s when we finally begin to thaw out slightly. April arrives frequently with snow… so April snows bring… frozen roses? Haha!

The cold and windchill also bring something gnarly with them: frostbite!

Frostbite can occur at any temp under 32 degrees! Add in wind for those lovely windchills and frostbite can happen even quicker!  This nifty chart from the National Weather Service gives a wad of different temps and winds where frostbite can happen. Yes we get -15 to -30 temps here in Minnesota on an average winter. 

Once the temperature drops below 32 degrees DOGS can also get frostbite! Ears, tails, noses and paws are the most susceptible! Frostbite occurs due to the body redirecting the warm cozy blood to the main organs and away from the extremities. The drop in blood flow causes the extremities to freeze resulting in frostbite! EEK! Small dogs, shorthaired dogs, puppies and senior dogs are at the most risk of frostbite. 

The general rule of thumb: too cold for you, then it is too cold for your pup!

So how do you keep your dog cozy during the winter season?

  • Start with short outdoor time and short walks.
    Roughly 30 minutes is the timeframe where both you and your pup will start to feel the uncomfortable effects of below 32 degree weather.

  • Load up you pup and pop into a dog friendly shop to get your steps in. 
    You’ll brave the chilly temps for a brief moment from house to car to store and back, but you’ll be able to stroll in comfortable temperatures in a large space.  If you visit a non dog supply store, make sure you dog is well pottied before strolling.
    • Pack a cleanup kit for just in case: poo bags and some paper towels moistened with the enzyme cleaner you have at home (DIY doggy wet wipes!). Don’t forget some dry paper towels as well. Clean up, put everything back into the bag your brought it in and drop it into the nearest trash bin. 

  • Dress your pup for the elements.
    There are a multitude of different clothing items that will keep your dog warm and cozy this winter from boots, hats and full bodied coats. Some dogs may not need a coat (Blue & Axle) while others of the shorter hair variety would prefer a wam cozy jacket (Bender).  Blue being a no coat guy there aren’t any coats I can recommend at the moment!

    Load up on cozy dog beds and ample warm cozy blankets. Set them in warm areas, such as the couch and near heat registers (Bender’s favorite haha!). Encourage your pup to cozy up on a bed, on or under a blanket with you. Add a loved plush and ready up your favorite show. 

  • Boredom busters!
    Ok, boredom busters won’t make your dog comfy and cozy this winter, but they will help them from going completely bananas in your house while you attempt to stay cozy until the winter passes. 

    • Find the treats
      This can be as basic or challenging you want to make it. Hide treats and have your dog find them, hide them in Easter eggs and hide those, scatter around the room with your dog in the room or out of the room. Pair with the find it command. 
      – For Blue and I it goes like this: soft tasty treats broken into teenie tiny bits and tossed around the living room. Brown treats are the best as they tend to blend in to the rug, toys and his bed making Blue use his nose heavily to find where each teeenie morsel is. (We used popcorn originally but he can see the light color contrast so finding the pieces was rather easy for him haha!)

    • Which cup?
      Similar to find the treats, but only this time put a treat under one of two opaque cups. When your pup picks the right cup they get the treat. Up the ante by adding more cups. No cups around? Use bowels, boxes or anything else to cover the treats. 

    • Train a new trick!
      Your dog may already known sit, lay, stay but what about bow? Bow, high five, hug, shy (cover their eyes), spin, sit pretty, and kiss are great easy tricks you can teach your pup. Working together helps to strengthen your bond, plus the mental exercise will tire out your dog. 

    • Get your “XYZ”
      This is a fun one to teach your dog. Start with a couple of toys – ie bear, ball, lizard. Name one (say “lizard”) and hand it to your pup. Repeat a couple of times. Put the trio on the floor and say “lizard”. If you dog picks the lizard, huzzah! If not, repeat the name of the toy and try again. Once your dog gets one toy name down, add in another name until your dog can pick out each individual toy in his toy box by name. Remember, dogs can only see in blues, yellows, some brown tones, greys, blacks & whites, so telling them to find the “pink toy” may not work (unless pink toy means the shape toy that looks like star wand). 
    • Sniffy sniff!
      As easy as the spice rack in your cupboard. Break out a bunch of spices, tea, coffee or other aromatic items from your kitchen and let your dog sniff them (not lick or eat them though!). Sniffing is great mental exercise for dogs and when they can’t do it outdoors, the kitchen is a cozy place that also has loads of smells! You can also let them sniff through your groceries too! Be cautious of spicy spices – red pepper, cayenne, black pepper, etc – as they can irritate your dog’s nose!

Break out the blankets, take short walks and do the boredom busters this winter and you and your dog will stay nice and cozy this winter season!

2 thoughts on “Keeping your dog cozy this winter season!”

  1. Brrrrr, I could not survive in those cold temps! I would be keeping my dog cozy this winter using your boredom busters list inside my home. I love the Get your “XYZ” game suggestion. I’ve never done that and it sounds fun! Thank you for sharing.
    Stay warm and cozy with your dogs this winter!

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