As the nights get colder we put on our thicker night clothes and maybe swap to a thicker duvet or use extra covers. We plug in the electric blanket and fill our hot water bottles but what about our dogs? What can we do to help them keep warm during the cold Winter nights?
The first thing to consider is their bedding. Make sure it is well padded underneath and consider using a memory foam mattress which retains heat better than ordinary foam or fibre filled beds. Position the bed away from draughts but not too close to a radiator as dogs don’t have the same pain receptors in their skin as us and can suffer quite serious burns by sleeping against a heat source without actually realising it. If you feel your dog would like a bed with sides to help reduce draughts opt for one with soft fabric sides rather than hard sides and make sure it is big enough for your dog to stretch out in if they want to so it doesn’t force your dog into a tight curled position which can contribute to spinal problems. You might also consider putting a fleece coat on them to sleep in if it’s really cold and they are thin coated themselves but also remember you don’t want them to get too hot! Avoid using loose knitted blankets as sometimes dogs can get their nails or feet caught in them which can jar joints as they struggle to move. If your dog has reduced mobility but they like to sleep on a sofa or bed make sure they can get on and off it easily without hurting stiff joints which can be more painful if they are cold. Steps and ramps are available to make things easier for your dog. If you choose to share your own bed with your dog remember that as they get older they may be less comfortable and more stiff when they wake up after being still for long periods of time. This can make them prone to snapping if you wake them suddenly. Some dogs also suffer from sleep startle which causes them to act defensively if disturbed from sleep by snapping or biting. This is particularly something to be aware of around children. There’s a reason we have the saying “Let sleeping dogs lie”. Wake them by calling them rather than touching them and give them plenty of time to get to their feet gently. Once up it can take longer for stiff joints to get moving so take a look at my previous blog about warming our canine athletes up for a walk to help them get moving more safely