Bella in a Sweater
Bella in a Sweater

Much of our country has experienced a relatively mild winter this year despite the prediction of a severe winter. Despite this prediction, snowfall has been less than usual, and the temperatures above average in many areas. Winter weather and your dog is not to be ignored regardless of how severe the winter.

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Last year started off the same way. However, half-way through January of last year, a polar vortex of massive proportion hit much of our nation.

The excessively cold weather resulted in a nation-wide deep freeze. This bitter cold not only lasted through February, but it also extended into March as well.

We have no way to predict what the weather will be for the rest of this winter season. What we do know is that there are several weeks left, and the potential for colder weather is there.

We may or may not have more heavy snowfall, but it is possible. Do you remember the old saying about March? If it comes in like a lamb, it may go out like a lion.

Don’t Forget Your Canine Companions

Just because you have prepared to deal with any kind of weather does not mean that your canine companion will be safe. Have you made any preparations for your dog? Does your plan for any winter emergency include your dog?

I hope you have. If not, however, you can still make arrangements to help them deal with the harsh weather conditions that winter often brings. These conditions may include power outages, blizzards, and even potential floods when heavy snowfall melts.

How Well Are You Prepared For Harsh Winter Weather?

Perhaps you are prepared to deal with heavy snowfall removal. Maybe your pantry is adequately stocked to feed your family for several days, and you have backup power should you need it.

Hopefully, you have made copies of important documents and have a bug-out bag prepared for emergency evacuation. The bug-out-bag will be discussed later in this article.

For Now, Let’s Take A Look At Some of The Daily Issues of Winter Weather That Effect Our Dogs

Protect Those Puppy Paws and Pads

Even without an emergency arising, winter can be problematic for your furry friends. Ice and snow, along with salt and ice removal chemicals, can irritate their delicate paw pads. They are also susceptible to frostbite.

Protection from these things or, at least, quick removal of them upon going inside, is vital. Be sure to remember to carefully clean pads and paws with a soft washcloth soaked in lukewarm water. Gentle drying should follow this thorough cleaning.

Is Your Dog Warmly and Fashionably Dressed?

Do you bundle your dog up when he goes outside in the bitter winter weather? This decision likely depends upon the breed of dog you have. His age, health in general, type of coat, and how much time they are accustomed to being outside may help you decide.

While it is true that smaller dogs and short-haired breeds are more susceptible to freezing weather when the weather is bitterly cold, virtually any dog might need to bundle up.

Some dogs do well with a sweater, and some require a coat. If it is wet weather, he may need a rain-resistant or rain repellent coat.

dog, dog wears a coat, pup
pup in a rain coat

If you determine that a coat or sweater is appropriate for your dog, you must select one that fits him well. It needs to be snug without restricting his movement. It should allow for the dog to relieve himself easily.

Be sure it has nothing that he can chew or get choked upon. Bright colors help to keep him visible to motorists and are desirable for this reason.

Be sure to remove it as soon as you go back inside. Quick removal is especially necessary if the garment is wet.

If you want to know more about dogs and outer-wear:

poodle in a green sweater

Wet Clothing Can Cause Problems For Your Dog

You should always remain nearby when your dog is wearing clothing. This is particularly true when there is a risk of it becoming wet. In the winter cold, it can freeze.

Frozen clothing held close to the dog’s coat can prevent him from shaking off the water. This can lower the dog’s temperature. He can be at risk of suffocation if caught just right when trying to get out of the wet clothing.


Not all dogs tolerate wearing boots. If they will wear them, make sure they fit well, have soles that give good traction, and have straps that adjust easily.

Waterproof or at least water-resistant material is desirable, especially for winter wear.

small dog in coat and boots in the snow

Winter Weather and Your Dog Means That Puppies and Senior Canines Are At Greater Risk

Puppies and geriatric dogs are more susceptible to cold weather than dogs in young adult years. Dogs at any age with chronic illnesses are also at higher risk in cold weather. None of these should be left out in the cold alone for very long.

When it is freezing, they should only be taken out for brief periods to relieve themselves. It is helpful to have a small area of your lawn cleared of snow for this purpose.

Outdoor Shelters

Make sure the shelter has dry, clean bedding and that their food and water are not frozen. When the temperature drops lower, bring them inside the house, especially at night. If you ever think they are hypothermic or may have frostbite, take them immediately to the vet.

Saint in the snow
Saint Bernard in the snow

Watch Out For Standing Water

Keep your canine companions away from frozen water, especially ponds. They may appear more thoroughly frozen than they are, and a dog could easily fall through the ice.

Never allow your dog to drink from standing water. It may contain toxic elements such as chemicals, road salt, or antifreeze that may have leaked from automobiles or trucks.

This, Too, Shall Pass

Winter does not last forever. Spring is not too far away. Soon both you and your furry friends will be ready to enjoy outdoor walks and playtime. But, for the next few weeks, be safe and make sure you both are prepared for emergencies and winter weather. in general

Our canine companions are part of our families, and they deserve to be treated as such. That includes being prepared to take them with us if we must evacuate in an emergency. But, what plans have you made for your dog should you have to evacuate quickly for any reason?

Winter Weather and Your Dog Requires You To Be Prepared

Valuable time can be saved under emergency conditions. You should prepare a bug-out-bag for your dog as well as one for the rest of the family. A carefully designed bug out bag can help calm a concerned and confused canine during emergency relocation.

Here is an article that deals with evacuating in an emergency in some detail:

One last comment before we close:

How To Prepare A Canine Bug-Out Bag

Essential items you should include in a canine bug-out bag:

  • Three day supply of his usual food (at a minimum)
  • A minimum quantity of his typical water (for three days or more)
  • Bowls for both food and water
  • Canine first-aid kit and any medications they may take regularly
  • Collars with ID tags, leashes
  • Medications and medical records (in a waterproof bag)
  • Favorite Toys and a small supply of treats
  • Bedding, crate and, for smaller dogs, a carrier
  • Brushes and other necessary grooming items
  • Phone numbers of pet-friendly hotels and local pet boarding facilities
  • A photo of your pet
  • Paper towels and trash bags
  • Bleach for cleaning

You may wish to consider having your dog micro-chipped

Photos courtesy of my photo album and Pixabay

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As Wife, Mother of 5, and Nana of many more, I have known and loved many dogs who were treasured members of our family. My education, experiences in showing, breeding, and developing pedigree-based breeding programs for others gives me a strong background upon which to base articles of interest to most dog lovers. However, it is my great love for dogs that gives me the passion to share them with other dog lovers.


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