When the weather got chilly here recently, our little Chihuahua got so cold! Even though she stays in the house most of the time, it seemed like she just couldn’t warm up. Any tips for helping her stay warm as the weather changes?
Cold Chihuahua in Woodland Heights
Dear Cold Chihuahua,
Despite the fact that most dogs wear a fur coat year-round, many can get very cold when the temperatures plunge. Smaller breeds (like Chihuahuas) seem to be especially sensitive to the cold, so it’s important to do a few things around the house to help keep her comfy this winter.
How to know if your dog is cold
Dogs show that they’re cold in different ways. The most universal way to tell if a dog is cold is if it’s shivering. Excitement or nervousness can all cause a dog to shiver, but if the temperature is cold, you can be sure that shivering is an indication that your pup needs a little warmth.
Experts seem to concur that when the weather gets to 30 degrees and below, it is definitely too cold for a pet to be outside for extended periods of time. Just like humans, dogs can experience hypothermia if left outdoors in below-freezing weather. However, it doesn’t sound like your pampered pooch is typically outside in weather that is that cold, so let’s focus instead on ways to keep her more comfortable in the home during cold weather.
You’ll want to be careful about leaving your dog unattended next to a heat source, such as a space heater, but there are other ways to make a warm spot for your dog that will work well and keep her safe. A heating pad with an automatic shut-off, placed under her bed or a favorite blanket is a good place to start. You can also fill an old sock with uncooked rice and microwave it for 2 minutes. This will provide heat for about 30 minutes and is the safest way to create a warm spot for her, without having to worry about fire hazards or electric cords.
Some dog clothing is rather ridiculous and offers nothing in the way of protection for the cold, but some dog sweaters and jackets do a decent job of trapping in the heat and taking the chill away. Additionally, you don’t have to run to your nearest pet store to buy a new sweater for your dog. A baby “onesie” or pajamas might work just as well–and will likely cost way less money (shop your local thrift stores for a bargain). Just make sure the clothing isn’t too loose (a tripping hazard) or too tight. Cut holes where needed and think outside the box to make it work for your dog.
Add an extra blanket to your dog’s bed and see if she’ll let you “tuck her in” at bedtime. The extra blanket will trap in her body heat and help her to stay warm–especially in a drafty house. Speaking of drafts, check your house for drafty doors and windows that might be at your dog’s level and see about fixing them. This will not only make your dog more comfortable, but might save you money on your energy bill.
Raised dog bed
If your dog sleeps on a dog bed, consider getting her one that is lifted off the ground. The floor can get really cold in winter and a bed that has legs allows the air to circulate underneath, helping to keep her warm.
Cold weather can be a great time to bundle up and enjoy a nice walk and then come home and snuggle with your favorite dog. Remember that senior pets might be more sensitive to the cold as well as very young puppies.
Employing a few extra cold-weather indulgences might make a difference in your dog’s happiness as we approach the colder months of the year.
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