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Do Dogs Get Cold Camping?

Do Dogs Get Cold Camping?

Both you and your pup can enjoy a camping adventure, and having a buddy with whom to hike and enjoy a walk around the campground can be a great way to keep active while camping. 

But when you bring your furry friend camping, you might have some concerns about keeping her comfortable and safe, especially if you’re in the mountains where temperatures drop at night. Today, we’ll talk about what camping with a dog looks like when the weather starts to get cold. 

Can Dogs Get Cold While Camping?

While a dog’s fur acts as a layer of protection, he can still get cold as the weather turns to winter. If you’re sitting at your campsite enjoying the evening and realize you’re feeling a bit cold, there’s a chance your furry friend is feeling chilly as well. 

How cold is too cold for your dog?

How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Dog?

Assuming your dog will remain with you for most of your trip, you can use yourself as a gauge. Consider how cold it feels to you when wearing a light coat.  When it feels too cold for you to remain in the elements, it’s likely too cold for your dog. 

Your dog’s breed will also influence its cold tolerance. A husky bred for sub-zero temperatures will last much longer outdoors than a Yorkie who has a thin layer of hair instead of fur. 

Remember that your dog’s temperature tolerance can change based on what they’re used to. While a husky was originally bred for sub-zero temperatures, if he’s always been an indoor dog, his fur likely isn’t as thick, and he’s not ready for freezing weather. 

Couple sitting by camp fire in the snow with their husky.
The breed of dog that you have will impact your dogs tolerance to cold weather.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Too Cold?

Aside from the apparent shivering a dog experiences when cold, a few more subtle hints let you know they need a warmer environment. 

Dogs will often become whiny and resistant to activity when they’re cold. They’ll seem uncomfortable and sometimes even anxious. A tucked tail can also be a sign that it is time to get them to warmth.

If your pup gets too cold, he could develop hypothermia, a deadly illness that occurs when a dog’s temperature drops from the cold weather. Signs of hypothermia include severe shivering, lethargy, stiff muscles, dilated pupils, stumbling, and collapse. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, seek veterinary treatment right away. 

Man wearing two layers sitting in his tent with his dog.
If you need extra layers or a coat, it is likely your dog will also be cold and need layers.

Tips to Keep Your Dog Warm When Camping in the Cold

Because we know dogs can get cold while camping, you must know how to keep them comfortable. Here are a few things to help keep man’s best friend warm. 

Provide a Warm Dog Bed

Providing a cozy place to rest is a great way to keep your dog warm. Whether you’re in a tent or an RV, keeping them off the ground will help with their temperature. Bringing along their dog bed from home will also bring comfort while you’re away from home–especially for anxious dogs.

Pro Tip: Keep your pup warm and well-rested in one of these 6 Best Dog Camping Beds for a Well Rested Adventure Pup.

Let Your Dog Sleep with You

Even if you aren’t usually one to let your dog sleep with you, it might be necessary on the coldest of nights camping. When the temperature dips a bit more than you’d prefer, a sleeping buddy can help you both keep warm. 

dog sleeping in camper bed

Give Your Dog a Blanket

When packing a blanket for yourself, don’t forget to pack an extra one for the dog. Laying a blanket on her curled up in bed can help her maintain precious body heat for comfort throughout the night. They’ll be extra appreciative if it’s a blanket that already has familiar scents on it. 

dog wrapped in camping blanket to keep warm
Just like you need layers when it is cold, your dog will also need extra warmth while camping. Make sure you don’t forget a blanket for them!

Feed Them Nutritious Meals

Just like us, dogs need nutritious meals to keep them healthy and ready for adventure. While you might enjoy a nice hot bowl of soup, your pup will enjoy having a healthy meal while you’re camping in the cold.

While it may be tempting just to toss them a few leftover hot dogs from around the fire, they should remain on their standard nutritious diet. 

Put on a Doggie Sweater

Even if putting clothes on your dog isn’t your normal scene, giving your dog a sweater to wear on your trip can be beneficial. A sweater or doggie jacket can help keep them dry and warm during cold-weather camping. Just like a human coat, it protects from cold air and keeps their body heat in.

Boston terrier in yellow sweater sitting on bench in the Park
A dog sweater or jacket isn’t just darn cute, but also very practical to provide extra heat for your pet.

Dry Your Dog Off Quickly

Being wet on a cold day is never fun for anyone, including your pet. If they happen to get wet, they’ll need to dry off as quickly as possible. Keep a towel nearby in case they’re soaked after a hike or sudden rain.

Pro Tip: Don’t leave for your camping trip without these 7 Essential Dog Camping Gear Items You Can’t Forget.

Can Dogs Sleep Outside in the Cold?

If you can sleep outside, your dog is likely fine as well. If it is too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your dog. Be mindful that the overnight temps can dip quickly, so don’t leave your pet outside alone while you leave the campground. 

Not only will your dog be uncomfortable and in danger of hypothermia in some cases, but also, many campgrounds prohibit it.  

RVing with Pets - Mondays with the Mortons

Should You Take Your Dog Camping in the Cold?

While it might take a bit more preparation and attentiveness, bringing your dog camping can be a great experience, even in the cold. If you come prepared to keep both of you safe from the elements, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t bring your dog along for the trip. 

Just be aware of any signs they may be sending that they need a warm-up and be ready with a warm-up plan. Remember if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pooch. 

dogs with hats and scarves on for cold weather camping

Ultimately, having your pet with you adds a layer of preparation when camping in the cold, but it’s well worth it for dog-lovers. 

Have you brought along your dog for a winter camping trip? Drop a comment below.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Kimberly Diable

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

Love your emails and articles about the RV life! Should we be concerned about warmth for our two cats? thanks in advance!