The easiest way to know how to keep dogs warm in the winter is to learn when it's too cold for dogs to go outside. This means knowing what the temperature outside is with the wind chill factor AND knowing whether other serious conditions are expected.
When it's 20 F outside, it's too cold for any dog to be walking. Above 20 F it may still be too cold to walk if conditions are icy, very windy, or if your dog is very young, old, or has a compromised immune system. If it is safe to go out, make sure to keep walks short and keep your pup wrapped up warm with their feet protected.
Invest in a Winter Jacket or Sweater for Your Dog
Not all dogs will benefit from a sweater or jacket, but many dogs can. Hairless breeds should always wear some type of winter dog clothing in cold climates. Short-haired and small breeds should also always wear a sweater or jacket to help keep them insulated during winter.
You should also always consider getting a jacket or sweater for your elderly dog, sick dog, a young puppy, or immune-compromised dog. We’ve published some great articles that can help you find the right jacket or sweater for your pet:
Protect Your Dog's Paws
While this isn’t really a tip about how to keep dogs warm in the winter, it is a tip on keeping them safe. When winter arrives it often means chemicals being spread on sidewalks to prevent icing. These chemicals can absorb into your dog's paws and end up being ingested if your dog licks their paws when they get home.
Even if chemicals aren't spread to prevent icing, sharp ice pieces or objects are hidden under snow can be dangerous to your dog's paws. You can protect your dog's feet by purchasing hard sole booties for walking or purchasing protective paw wax to protect against chemicals. If you rely on paw wax, it's important to clean your dog's paws when you get back home every time you go walking.
DON'T Make Your Dog Sleep Outdoors
A dog should never be made to sleep outdoors. As social animals, dogs want to be close to their family and the isolation of being an "outside dog" is torturous to them. It is particularly important to have dogs sleep indoors during winter months to keep them protected against the cold. Even with outdoor shelter and housing, it's possible for dogs to succumb to the cold or become ill. The best advice on how to keep dogs warm in the winter is to keep them out of the cold and weather as much as possible, meaning invite them inside. As an alternative, you can always provide your cold pet with a dog house with a heater.
Limit Outdoor Playtime
Some dogs just love to play in the snow, but you should monitor and limit outdoor playtime during the winter. Just like human children, dogs can get caught up in playing and forget to monitor their body temperature.
It's up to you to monitor your pup and make sure that they aren't spending too much time out in the cold. Ideally, your dog should spend just 30 minutes or less playing outdoors at a time, according to veterinarians. Of course, if temperatures are dangerously low, they shouldn't be outdoors at all!