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Can dogs sleep outside in the winter?

While on the one hand our animals have become increasingly domesticated and “humanised”, on the other hand it is true that dogs and cats are undoubtedly wilder than us since they mainly rely on instinct and not on reason.

To keep warm, man has used fire, shelters and the furs of other animals: our 4-legged friends, on the other hand, still have fur and a slightly different thermoregulation system from ours, which allows them to be more resistant to climatic adversities. So let’s see if dogs can sleep outside in the winter and when it should be avoided.

Dog Sleeping Outside In Winter: Is It Wrong?

Even if with some hesitation, the low temperatures have now arrived and one may wonder if letting the dog sleep outside in winter could be a good idea when it is very cold outdoors.

Our 4-legged friends are able to withstand cold temperatures much better than us, but beyond certain limits, dogs also suffer, and sleeping outdoors is not always advisable. Furthermore, animals are not all the same, and neither are gardens and climates in Italy: so here are some tips to ensure that animals and their owners can spend a peaceful (and warm) winter!

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Can dogs sleep outside in the winter?

Dogs can sleep outside in the winter if they are healthy adults and provided they have adequate shelter and free access to water.

Puppies, small breed dogs and older dogs with health problems should not sleep outdoors in winter as they are more sensitive to low temperatures for various reasons.

Which dogs shouldn’t sleep outside in the winter?

  • Puppy dogs are in a growth phase, they have not yet developed all the necessary antibodies and a cold snap could cause serious complications, not to mention that they would consume much more energy to warm up rather than to grow.
  • I small dogs they suffer more from the cold, especially if light and short-haired.
  • Finally, cold and humidity are enemies of the bones, and exacerbate pathologies such as arthritis or joint problems, therefore the dogs that suffer from them and in general the animals with health problems.

In these cases, if possible, the dog should sleep inside.

What protects the dog from the cold?

Obviously the fur, but also the tonnage (weight), and body fat, are all useful elements to keep the dog warm in winter.

Mountain dogs have a thick undercoat which acts as a thermal insulator, and it is very important to take care of it all year round without making mistakes in shearing during the summer season: in fact, even in the heat, this layer is very important for the correct thermoregulation of the dog. The adipose fat instead it constitutes an energy reserve that is used by homeothermic animals to cope with low temperatures.

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At what temperature do dogs feel cold?

When they are outside 7°C all dogs are generally comfortable and they don’t suffer from the cold, but it is still advisable to observe the dog to understand if it is looking for a way to assimilate heat.

  • At 5 °C already some small breeds, such as the short-haired, small and slender Chihuahua, will already suffer from the cold, and they should not be left too long at temperatures below 1 °C.
  • The medium-sized breeds are a little more resistant, with a few degrees more tolerance than the small ones,
  • Even in large breed dogs there are considerable differences based on the breed, however generally at 4-4.5 °C they easily tolerate the cold. Some animals can also bear temperatures below zero, but this is linked, as we have seen, to various factors and in any case never to -12 °C.

Dogs that can sleep away from home

Dogs can sleep outside in winter so it’s the general rule, but there are so many and so different breeds that the doubt arises spontaneously. For example, can a sheepdog sleep outside in the winter?

Many working breeds, as well as sheepdogs, have been chosen not only for their qualities and abilities, but also for their resistance and ability to adapt to the most diverse circumstances: let’s not forget that some of them are very ancient, and in the past, pets in the house were very rare exceptions.

Here are some examples of breeds that can sleep outside without problems:

Where to let the dog sleep in winter?

A protected place

If you choose to let your dog sleep away from home, it is very important to choose a place in which to establish his shelter or kennel, which must be draft-free and sheltered from drafts and rain. There are kennels insulated in resistant material, in which Fido will find a bed where he can take refuge from bad weather.

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How to heat your dog’s kennel

Remember to include some enrichments: blankets, baskets and anything that can be useful to give him the necessary comfort even outside. If it’s too cold, cover the floor of the kennel with cardboard (such as packaging) which will act as a thermal insulator, preventing the humidity and cold of the ground from penetrating: obviously as long as it doesn’t get soaked!

Even though dogs can sleep outside in the winter, probably if Fido had a choice, he would always sleep inside the house and closer to his family unless he has been used otherwise and is particularly suited to this lifestyle.

For this reason it is important to gradually accustom the dog to the cold and, if possible, do it from puppyhood: in this way it will be natural for them and not a deprivation!