Keeping your pet warm at night during the winter: top tips

Keeping your pet warm at night is a concern that equates with their nutrition and health needs. Many pet owners can be a bit like Mom when it comes to worrying about the comfort levels of the furry companions. When the owner feels cold they worry about whether their furry companion is feeling it too. The contrast also shows itself when pet owners have an outdoor animal for the first time. There are many reasons why an animal prefers to be outdoors.

Many a rescue cat or dog simply cannot cope with being kept indoors and in some cases feral cats that are becoming domesticated will never come indoors. Dogs that live on the premises for security purposes are most often housed outside too.

Depending on where you live, will influence how cold it gets at night all through the year. When travelling or moving to new country or state do some homework on day and night-time temperatures. There are some locations where it may be sweltering hot during the day and turn very cold in the evening and dark hours. Then there are temperate environments where the temperature only fluctuates slightly and those where night time temperature will change according to the seasons.

Wrapping yourself up in layers of warmth to go outside and establish how cold it is, will kind of defeat the purpose too. Check the weather forecast and not the important facts such as the wind chill factor, humidity and predictions for rain and snow.

Keeping your pet warm at night during the winter: top tips

Keeping dogs warm at night

There are several things you can do to keep your dog warm at night. Even if your dog lives outside most of the time, allocating a space where he can lie quietly in your home, particularly during the coldest of weather will make him a lot more content. If he’s allowed to spend the early evening in a warm place and builds up his body heat, he’ll get through the night much easier, when it comes for bedtime and he needs to return to the doghouse outside.

The breed matters

If you live in a place where the climate is colder and particularly if it gets exceptionally cold in winter, then it’s advisable to get a dog that can cope with the weather. Breeds such as the Alaskan malamute, Huskies and Chow Chows are ideal for this. Even Saint Bernards that have been used in the Swiss Alps as rescue dogs are a great choice for cold environments. When choosing the breed to think about the weather. It will be much kinder to the dog too. The kind of coat that your dog has will influence how well he copes with the weather. This all boils down to breed.

In the doghouse

The place your dog lives should be as important to you as your own home. If you want your dog to be happy, healthy and comfortable. This means his outside accommodation should be windproof and watertight. Ideally built for purpose with a sloping roof for water and snow runoff. Specialist heaters are available for doghouses and ideally, the floor will be raised so that the elements such as snow and water runoff won’t seep inside. Laying a carpet will also make the interior warmer and will help to keep it insulated especially from the creeping cold that comes from the ground.

Keeping your pet warm at night during the winter: top tips

The bed

How your dog is able to maintain warmth while he sleeps at night is critical to his health and wellbeing. Ensure that his sleeping area or bed is at least three inches from the ground and preferably also raised inside the doghouse. It is also possible to put a heated mat inside the bed which will at least keep the space he is sleeping on at an ambient warm temperature.

His body

Dogs regulate their body temperature through their mouths and their paws. Grit that is laid on roads and pavements to prevent black ice contains salts that are often toxic to the dog’s system. These salts can cause paw pads to crack and become very painful. A pair of booties go a long way to keep your dog’s paws healthy during the winter. Some dogs are simply uncooperative and won’t wear booties. These canines can be helped along with some paw wax available from good pet stores and groomers. If his paws are showing signs of cracking, try to keep him on the grass and off public pathways until they have healed. His paws need to be in good condition to keep the temperature regulation working well internally.


It takes extra energy to stay warm at night especially when living outside in the doghouse. Well balanced nutritious meals possibly with a bit of extra carbs – rice is good for that, will make all the difference. It will keep the vets bills away and your furry companion will feel satisfied.

Keeping cats warm at night

Ideally cats should stay indoors during the coldest hours of the night, however some cats have the personality and life experience that dictates otherwise. Feral cats can be particularly difficult to provide for, and you’ll discover they’re happy to engage with you when it comes to mealtimes, but that’s where they draw the boundaries. Consider the following tips especially when you must let the cat live outdoors.

Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors need access to warm dry shelter, during blizzards or stormy weather. If owners spend time away from home, and the cats are outdoors even during the day, these precautions should be taken into consideration.

Outdoor shelter

Placing a cat flap on a shed, garage or outdoor building that is otherwise intact, dry and free from draughts, will provide excellent shelter for your feline friend. Provided the floor of the space that has been made accessible is raised above ground level it will remain dry from water runoff too.

How to keep your pet warm in winter: top tips

Bedding and sleep cosies

Cats love to curl up and sleep in enclosed spaces. That’s why they almost always occupy an abandoned cardboard box if left out long enough. Place an enclosed bed inside the shelter three to six inches above ground level minimum and line it with a fleece blanket. The cheapest solution is to use a cardboard box and cut a hole in the side. There are plenty of cat bedding solutions that enable the cat to snuggle and stay warm.


Cats lose heat too and if the shelter that they are being offered does not have heating then a heat pad for their bed or a specialist heating mattress is a really good idea. These items maintain a set temperature and will offer a warm spot ready for them as soon as they come in from the cold.

Feeding and nutrition

Cats, like dogs burn more calories to stay warm during the winter. Take advice from your vet, however treats such as tuna are very high in calories and you can rest assured they will eat the whole lot up. Feed the cat a little more than you do in the summer months so they can store up those extra calories and burn them off on those extra cold nights.

Keeping your pet warm at night during the winter: top tips


Apart from keeping your feline buddy looking good. Regular grooming means that their fur won’t matt and become clumpy. When this happens the insulation in their fur is reduced and thus they are more vulnerable. 

Dogs and cats are individuals too and will manage the cold differently. Some pets fly through winter with no difficulties at all. Others, especially those that are arthritic or elderly struggle more and sometimes belie the underlying college by simply moving less. Moving less equals heat loss and when you notice this put extra precautions in place to keep them warm. Animals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and heart complaints will also have additional needs so be sure to discuss them with your vet, well before the severe cold sets in.

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