How to Keep Your Dog Warm and Safe Outside in the Cold

When you have a pet living outdoors, they are depending on you to protect them from severe weather conditions. During the winter, there are certain precautions you should take to make sure your dog is warm and safe in the winter months when temperatures are at their lowest.

The Warm Dog House

White dog sitting in front of warm dog house in the snowFirst off, you need to make sure they have a shelter facing the East, southeast or south. There is less wind coming from these directions. It is best to place the dog house next to a shelter or your house to help avoid strong winds.

Secondly, choose a house that is appropriate to your dog’s size. It is better to have a larger house then one too small. If you live in a colder climate, try to find a house that has a flap over the door or longer entrance.

You can make a flap by cutting plastic or rubber to fit the doorway and attaching it just above the entrance if you have a flat entrance.


dog wrapped up in warm blanketsNext, you will want to make sure there is appropriate bedding in the shelter. You can use straw (mix in some cedar chips to keep bugs away), bedding, old blankets, any materials that can help the dog nestle in. Heated pet mats are a huge plus to keeping your pet warm. There are many types of heated pet mats; you will want to make sure the pet mat you have chosen is suitable to the bedding you are using.

Food and Water

heated pet bowlYou will also want a heated water bowl or water heater to keep your pets bowl from freezing. Be sure not to use a metal heater in a plastic bowl!  Water is very important to a pet’s survival in the winter; they need it just as much on a cold day as a hot one.

You might want a self-feeder dog bowl or a covered feeding area to keep the food from freezing and getting wet. In the winter, you might find that your pet is eating a little bit more. Their bodies are burning more calories trying to keep warm. It is ok to feed them a little more in the winter!



The last few items you may want are clothing options such as a coat/hoodie for your pet when going for walks. Some short or fine-haired dogs do not have the warmth from thick fur to be out in the cold for long periods of time. But make sure this is not left on your dog for days at a time, your dog’s skin does need to breathe.

You might also consider foot booties. Yes, this might seem like a silly thing but severe weather can damage or crack your dog’s paws. Most of the booties available are multipurpose and can be used for walking on hot sidewalks in the summer to prevent blistering.

Our pets depend on us to protect them from the elements. The Animal Humane Society has several great articles on keeping your pet warm. Make sure to check out their article, Cold Weather Pet Safety.

For more pet-related reads on the Rural King blog, check out our Pet Category.