We know most dogs, especially hounds, absolutely LOVE the outdoors, but as temperatures drop, it is important that all dogs, including full-time outdoor pups, have access to the adequate shelter, preferably indoors with their humans, AND adequate food and water. While it may seem that some dogs and cats are fully protected by their thick coats, all pets are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Even long-haired, thick coated dogs should not be outside for long periods of time in freezing temperatures as their paw pads, noses, ears, mouths and skin can fall victim to frostbite, cracking, bleeding and burning in snow, ice & freezing temps.

Keeping your dog dry in cold, wet weather is a MUST. If you are using an outdoor shelter, invest in a door flap or create one out a tarp or non-absorbent material. Elevate your shelter or provide an elevated bed to give your pup a place to lay off the cold, wet ground. If your pup is or could possibly be sick or suffering from an underlying illness or injury, being indoors is the only way to ensure their condition does not worsen or lead to death.

Adequate water means liquid water, NOT ice! This means refilling your pups’ water often. Just because it is cold and wet outside does not mean they are not thirsty or that they can get enough hydration from an outdoor source. Just like humans, dogs burn more calories, sweat and get dehydrated when their bodies work to keep themselves warm. Burning more calories means your pet needs more food and more water to give their bodies the energy needed to stay warm outdoors in inclement weather. This does not mean fattening your pup up for winter, excessive weight gain during winter and loss in spring can have devastating effects on their long-term health. Additional food for winter should keep your dog at their ideal weight, not add extra pounds.

If your dog must be outdoors in cold weather, make sure to supply them with appropriate shelter. Outdoor pets should have 24/7 access to shelter with three full walls, a fourth wall with a protected entrance (see door flap above) and a roof. Shelters should be the right size for your pet. Shelters that are too big for your pup’s size, fill with cold air making them less likely to keep your pup warm. Insulate your shelters with straw or other natural bedding to provide warmth. Blankets, towels and other fabrics are not effective, they freeze from absorbing moisture from the air, snow and rain.

We also highly recommend jackets, sweaters and outdoor apparel for your indoor/outdoor pets. For outdoor only pets, use jackets that are moisture wicking and non-absorbent. Outdoor apparel only works when it remains dry. If it gets wet, dirty or damaged, dry it, clean it and repair it. These jackets can be bought almost anywhere and usually don’t cost very much (try Aldi’s, Walmart, TJ Maxx & Marshall’s for affordable coats).

Ultimately, we know pups are pups and people are people, but the odds are if you think it is too cold for you to spend excess time outdoors without going indoors to warm your bones, then it is too cold for your pups as well.

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