Sure, dogs have fur to keep them warm. But not all dogs have enough of a coat to keep them warm at night. This can certainly be true of older dogs or those with certain medical conditions, such as a skin disorder. Each dog is different but some dogs will get chilly at night just as humans do.
Should a dog use a blanket to help keep them warm?
Yes, some dogs do need a blanket at night when they go to bed. Fur may not be enough to keep them warm throughout the night as they sleep. However, some breeds do not need help keeping warm, and many characteristics play into the fact of what your dog needs.
To decide whether or not your doggie needs a blanket at night, you have to factor in their unique qualities. No two dogs are the same, of course. Read on to find out more on whether or not your dog needs a blanket at night.
Does Your Dog Need A Blanket?
Some dogs need a blanket while they sleep, others don’t. That part is simple. But figuring out whether or not YOUR doggie needs a blanket is a little more involved. To make sure you’re doing your part to keep your dog comfy while he or she sleeps, there are a few things to consider:
How Much Fur or Hair Does Your Dog Have?
For dogs, fur and hair are similar to the clothes we wear and provide some protection from frigid weather conditions and colder temperatures.
Dog coats are generally made up of an outer coat (the guard hair or primary coat) and an undercoat and can largely differ in density and length depending on the breed.
Guard hairs vary in texture, length, and thickness and not only safeguard the dog’s skin from minor topical injuries, but also serve as extra insulation from cold weather.
The soft and fluffy undercoat is nearest the skin and is a dog’s primary protection against chilly climates.
Most breeds have a double coat, meaning that they have both an outer coat and an undercoat. However, the length and density of the hair in each layer is what determines your dog’s vulnerability to colder temperatures. Some breeds only have a single coat. The Pumi, for example, only has an undercoat while a Whippet only has a primary outer coat.
Naturally, thicker coats will provide more protection to cold winds and temperatures, while thinner coats are more permeable to such conditions. A Greyhound, for example, with its short hair and non-existent undercoat, does not have the type of fur to survive cold nights in a wintry tundra, whereas a Siberian Husky would fare just fine.
So, depending on whether your dog is single or double-coated and how long and dense the hair is for each layer, a blanket may certainly prove to be a necessity.
What Kind of Dog do You Have?
Some breeds were made to survive in cold temperatures, while others are more suited to live within hot, humid climates. Here are some of the breeds that thrive in and tolerate certain environments and temperatures:
|Cold Weather Breeds||Warm/Hot Weather Breeds||All-Weather Breeds|
Australian Cattle Dog
For the breeds that can withstand cold temperatures due to their dense double coat, you can skip a blanket.
How Healthy is Your Dog?
Some diseases dogs develop can have the side effect of lower cold tolerance. You and your vet know your dog’s health the best, so you will have to decide if it will need a blanket or not. But here are some diseases that can cause a dog to be cold:
- Heart disease – can cause extremities to be cold as the body is focused on delivering most of the blood to vital organs and is not able to pump sufficient blood to the whole body.
- Diabetes – can cause anemia and circulation issues which can make your dog feel colder
- Kidney disease – less heat is generated due to a decrease in red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body (anemia). Also, a build-up of uremic wastes can cause hypothermia.
- Hormonal imbalances – some hormones influence the part of the brain that regulates body temperature
There may be other diseases or illnesses that can make your dog more prone to getting cold. If this is a concern and the blanket doesn’t seem to help, check with your dog’s veterinarian for professional advice.
What Size is Your Dog?
It is well known that the size of the dog can make them more likely to get cold. If you have a smaller dog, they are more likely to get cold and will need a blanket when they sleep. Small dogs normally have short, thin hair and not much subcutaneous fat to insulate their body.
There are a few larger breeds that may need a blanket as well. For example, Great Danes don’t have thick, long hair and don’t have much fat. So, if your dog doesn’t have thick hair and is thin in size or shape, he or she may need a blanket at night.
Where do You Live?
Environment plays a role as well. If you are up north, where winters are much harsher than locations closer to the equator, then you may need to give your dog a blanket, especially if your puppy isn’t one of the breeds that do well in cold temperatures.
If you like your home cold, this may mean your dog is cold, too. Although we have control of our environment inside the home, it doesn’t mean that a dog can’t get cold. Each dog is different, just like each person is different. Make sure to look out for signs of cold intolerance to see if your dog needs help staying warm.
How Old is Your Dog?
When humans get older, they lose the ability to hold as much warmth due to the thinning of the heat-conserving fat layer under our skin (subcutaneous fat). Another reason is a natural decrease in blood circulation as a result of elasticity loss in the blood vessels.
Less circulation makes it more difficult for your body to retain heat. Dogs are no different from us humans in those respects. The natural aging process causes their bodies to work less efficiently and they simply can’t maintain their warmth like younger pups.
Signs of Cold Intolerance
If you are still unsure if your dog needs a blanket, knowing the signs of cold intolerance will help you with your decision. Here are the signs to look out for to see if your dog has cold intolerance:
- Signs of anxiety
- Shivering, trembling
- Trying to burrow and cuddle into warm spaces
- Cold ears
- Curling up
Your dog can’t simply say that they are cold, so watching out for these telltale signs is important so you can provide them with ways to keep warm. Cover them with a blanket. If your dog curls up into that blanket, they need a little extra warmth. If your pup wriggles free, they’re not cold. Dogs are very intuitive.
Best Blankets for Your Dog
You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on your dogs for them to keep warm. “Shop” your house. Chances are you already have a blanket you no longer use that would be perfect for your best buddy to cuddle up in. Thrift stores are also a good place to find gently used blankets. Of course, you can always buy a new one.
When picking a blanket for your dog, make sure ID tags and collars can’t get easily caught up in the fabric. Also, be very mindful of the material. First and foremost, we want our pets to stay safe and healthy. A lot of fabrics these days are loaded with potentially cancer-causing chemicals. Therefore, it’s best to choose blankets made from 100% natural fibers, like cotton and linen. This goes for dog beds, clothing, and stuffed toys as well.
Other Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm
Blankets are a great way to keep your dog warm, but there are other options you can try. Here are a few things that can help keep your little pup cozy and comfortable:
- A dog bed
- Stuffed animals
- Doggy vests, sweaters, or shirts
- Move their sleeping spot from vents, windows, and doors
- Cover their crate with a blanket so it resembles a den
These are all good ways to keep your puppy warm but be careful not to overheat them either.
Dogs are just as unique as us with their different characteristics. As the dog’s owner, it is you who is most in tune with your pup’s needs so pay close attention and use your best judgment to determine whether a blanket is needed to keep him or her comfy and cozy at night. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian.