Here’s How To Go Winter Camping With Your Dog
And how to spot if your pup’s too cold 🥶
If you and your dog love going camping together, you’ve probably toyed with the idea of a winter camping trip.
But since it gets so cold during the winter, you might be wondering how to go about it safely.
We spoke with Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and consultant for Five Barks, for tips on how to keep safe and warm while winter camping with your dog.
How to keep your dog warm during winter camping
Camping during the winter can obviously get pretty cold, so it’s important to know how to keep your dog warm when it does. Here are some tips.
Make sure he sleeps in a tent
Sleeping in a tent will keep your dog warm and dry, which is crucial during a season that’s so wet and cold.
“Dogs need shelter [and] protection from wind and rain,” Dr. Simon told The Dodo. “This is especially important when they are resting and sleeping, as the lack of movement leaves them open to getting cold.”
Depending on what’s best for you and your dog, you can either share a tent or get him his own.
Get a dog sleeping bag
There are sleeping bags specifically designed for dogs that will come in handy during a winter camping trip.
“Sleeping bags are an especially good idea for those dogs who constantly throw blankets off themselves,” Dr. Simon said.
Consider getting your dog a coat
If your pup needs a little extra warmth, a dog coat could make a huge difference.
“This should be a soft fabric with minimal zips or clips so it is as comfortable as possible,” Dr. Simon said.
Watch out for signs that he’s getting too cold
It’s not safe for dogs to be outside when the temperature dips below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (including wind chill). So, you’ll want to be on the lookout for signs that your dog is too cold.
- Tucked tail
- Reluctance to move
- Seeking shelter
Your dog could even get so cold that he starts experiencing hypothermia, which is a medical emergency. Signs of hypothermia include:
- Decreased breathing
Safety tips for winter camping with your dog
There are a bunch of safety tips to keep in mind if you’re going winter camping with your dog.
Get light-up gear
Light-up collars and leashes can make all the difference when you and your dog are camping overnight. And if you’re camping during the winter, it’s going to get dark pretty early in the day.
“It can help to have leads and collars that are reflective and LED lights, especially when the evenings are dark,” Dr. Simon said.
We tried out the Blazin’ Safety LED dog collar on our own dogs and absolutely loved it. “This collar has been amazing,” pet parent Anita Diamantopoulou told The Dodo. “It is so bright there is no way we won't see Rosie. She has worn it for an hour each day, and the light hasn’t faded at all!”
We also tested out the Illumiseen light-up leash and were super impressed. “It gives me a little extra light near my dog to where I can see if he is chowing down on something unexpected,” pet parent Melanie Tse told The Dodo.
Keep a close eye on your dog
You should always have an idea of where your pup is and what he’s doing because there are so many things — in the wilderness and in your campsite — that can be harmful for your dog. (This is important to keep in mind year round, and not just during the winter months.)
“We need to monitor our dogs, ensuring they stay away from danger,” Dr. Simon said. “Equipment such as knives, camping stoves, kettles, batteries and tent pegs must never be accessible.”
You also want to make sure your pup doesn’t run off.
“Some owners keep their dogs on long leads, while others use collars with in-built GPS trackers, just in case,” Dr. Simon said.
We tried out the Whistle Switch smart collar on our own dogs and were blown away with how easy it was to monitor their exact location. “When we left the house and headed to my mother-in-law’s, it recognized that Piper was not in a safe space and alerted me to where she was, even down to the approximate house number,” pet parent Sarah Halliday told The Dodo.
Make sure he’s got an ID tag and a microchip
Since ID tags and collars can come loose or fall off sometimes, you should make sure your dog is microchipped, too, so whoever finds him can still contact you.
Seal food and treats right away
Dog food and treats can have a pretty strong smell, and you don’t want it to attract any other animals.
“Keep their food and treats closed away when not being eaten, ensuring local wildlife is not attracted to the campsite,” Dr. Simon said.
How to warm up a cold dog
If your dog starts showing signs that he’s too cold, there are a few things you can do to warm him up:
- If he’s wet, dry him off.
- Cover him in blankets.
- Give him warm water and warm food.
- Put him in your car and turn on the heat.
It’s important to note you should warm your dog up gradually so you don’t shock his system. But if it seems like what you’re doing isn’t working, or if you think your dog is suffering from hypothermia, you should bring him to the vet ASAP.
“Before heading to the campsite, make sure you have the details for the closest emergency vet,” Dr. Simon said.
Now that you know everything you need to know about safely going winter camping with your dog, you’re all set to plan your big adventure.