Camping with a dog is a ton of fun! However when the temperatures, you have to a few steps to keep your dog warm. Here we’ll give you the simplest ways to keep your dog warm at night while camping.
Cold weather camping is one of my favorite types of camping!
But sometimes at night it can get really cold!
Of course, snuggling into a low temperature sleeping bag laced with a few flannel blankets makes it easy to keep warm.
But what about your dog?
Keeping your dog warm during camping in the winter or areas where it gets cold out at night can be a little tricky.
Most dogs have pretty good insulation, and will usually be fine during the day. Especially while staying active.
But once the sun drops, temperatures can drop drastically.
And keeping your 4 legged friends warm at night is a must!
Here are a few things you need to know about camping in the cold and ways to keeping your dog warm.
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How to Keep Dogs Warm When Camping
Setting up a warm area at camp for your dog is one of the first things you should do when setting up camp.
This will give your dog a safe, warm place to retreat if they start feeling too cold.
It’ll also likely be where your dog should sleep while camping.
A big item on our camping with dogs checklist is bringing a dog bed or kennel for your dog. But there are other good solutions as well.
Here are a few things to consider when creating your warm area for your dog.
Choose the Right Bedding
When setting up your dogs bed, there are a few things to consider.
If the ground is going to be very cold, you might want to consider a raised portable bed.
It’ll help keep your dog warmer by not letting to the cold ground steal their heat.
You can then pair it with a doggy sleeping bag or a few thick blankets.
I personally like the sleeping bag available, because it can help lock in your dogs heat without letting it escape every time they move.
I’ll be honest though, half the time my pup ends up my sleeping bag on the coldest nights.
I always pack a few extra flannel blankets just in case.
Of course, if your dog has a bed he loves at home, you could bring that along if you have room.
A familiar place to sleep can bring comfort in a strange place to dogs.
Keep Them in the Tent at Night
If you are tent camping, I’d definitely suggest keeping them in the tent with you at night when you are sleeping.
If your dog has some tent anxiety, you can read our guide about getting dogs used to tents.
They body heat from you both will help keep the tent warmer, thus helping everyone inside keep warmer too.
If you’d rather not have your dog sleeping in the tent with you, you could also try putting them in their own tent.
And yes, camping tents for dogs is a thing.
If your dog is on the calmer side, I can see it working out well.
Being in an enclosed tent, paired with some of the bedding options above should help keep your dog warm and snugly.
However, if you have a puppy or your dog is a bit of a spaz, then a dog tent may not be the best option.
Use Hot Water Bottles
Another common trick campers use to keep themselves warm is a hot water bottle!
This is a great option for dogs as well.
It’s an inexpensive and easy way to add instant heat fast.
You’ll need a way to heat up your water bottle, but that’s easily done over a camp fire or with a portable propane grill.
Once you have the hot water in the bottle, it will usually stay warm for 5-6 hours.
I like to place mine at the bottom of their sleeping bag right before bed.
Jack loves the warm and cozy feeling and stays in his sleeping bag longer before begging to get into mine.
Bring High Quality Snacks
Another way to keep your dog warmer is to make sure they are getting plenty of calories.
When out in cold weather, your dog’s body is prone to shivering, which will use up more calories than normal.
So its a good idea to keep a few high protein snacks available. I’m sure your dog won’t mind the extra snacks.
You can make them yourself, or get some high protein treats like these.
Of course, you could always just add in an extra meal for the day and get those extra calories that way too.
I personally like to carry the treats for when we’re on a long hike.
I can simply toss my dog a few ever couple of hours to make sure he’s getting enough calories to stay warm.
Which brings me to my next tip.
The easiest way to keep your dog warm, is by keeping him active.
This isn’t hard while camping, as there is so many fun things to do and areas to explore.
If you’re at camp and having some down time, you can simply toss a ball around with your dog or play fetch with a stick.
The constant motion will keep you dog warm and they probably won’t even notice the cold.
Use a Dog Jacket
Another useful item for cold weather camping with your dog, is a dog jacket!
There are quite a lot of choices out there for outerwear for dogs.
If it might get really cold, I suggest a high quality jacket like this one.
It’s made of fleece on the inside to keep your dog warm, and the outside layer is water resistant, helping keep your dog dry.
It also has an area to hook your harness through, so it makes it easy to keep your dog on his leash when needed.
Keep your Dog Dry
Another important way to keep your dog safe and warm outdoors, is to keep him dry!
It may be hard if the weather is bad, but water will make a cold day even colder.
So keeping them out of lakes and ponds is important. And keep them in the tent if it’s raining out.
Other Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe and Warm Outdoors in Winter
A few other tips for when your camping with dogs in cold weather….
Make sure to keep your dog hydrated when going out on your adventure.
Try giving warmer water (not hot) to your dog, instead of cold water, which can help them retain heat.
Finally, make sure to keep your dogs paws clean and dry. We have great tips for protecting dogs paws while hiking.
How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?
We have a whole post dedicated to how cold is too cold for dogs.
Most dogs will handle weather well down to 45°F (7°C) with no issues.
A few factors to consider are the size and breed of your dog.
Some dogs were bred for colder weather and do well in very cold temperatures, while others, not so much…
Smaller dogs are also more prone to the cold and will lose their body heat much quicker.
There’s also their age and general health condition that can come into play.
Basically, use some good common sense and a few of the tips above to keep your dog warm in colder weather.
Finally, if your dog is showing outward signs they are too cold, like excessive shivering, whining and whimpering, or lethargy it may be time to head indoors.