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Can Dogs Sleep Outside In The Winter

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Whether or not a dog can sleep outside in winter depends on many factors, such as the dog's breed, coat type, and shelter insulation.
  • Puppies cannot sleep outside in the cold as they are more susceptible to illnesses and hypothermia due to their small surface area to volume ratio.
  • Risks of dogs sleeping outside in winter include frostbite, hypothermia, and colds; insulated dog houses, dog heaters, heating pads, and lamps are recommended to keep dogs warm.
  • Dog breeds with heavier and longer fur, such as Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, are better adapted to cold temperatures.
  • Outdoor temperature is not the only factor to consider; wind and dampness can also make dogs feel cold.
Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Thursday 31 October 2019
Last updated on
Tuesday 30 May 2023
Can Dogs Sleep Outside During Winter
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As winter approaches, it’s important to prepare outdoor dogs for the cold weather. If you’re someone who keeps your dog outside, you might be wondering if it’s safe for them to sleep outdoors during winter. In this article, we’ll explore this question and provide some helpful tips to keep your furry friend comfortable and healthy.

While some dog owners are choosing to keep their pets outside during the winter, it’s important to note that this is more of a cultural shift than a safety precaution. In fact, it’s often safer to keep dogs indoors during extreme weather conditions. However, if you do choose to keep your dog outside, there are some important things to consider.

First and foremost, it’s essential to ensure that outdoor temperatures are safe for your dog. Some breeds are better suited for colder climates than others, so it’s important to know your dog’s breed and understand its specific needs. Additionally, you’ll need to take some safety measures to keep your dog warm, such as providing them with a warm shelter, plenty of blankets, and access to fresh water and food.

In summary, it’s possible for dogs to sleep outdoors during winter, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and comfort. By understanding your dog’s specific needs and taking the appropriate measures, you can help them stay healthy and happy all winter long

Can Dogs Sleep Outside In The Winter?

Are you wondering if your furry friend can sleep outside? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. There are many factors to consider.

Firstly, you need to know how cold it gets at night. In general, dogs that are sensitive to the cold will feel uncomfortable when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and anything below 20 degrees is dangerous for all breeds.

But, just knowing the outdoor temperature is not enough. It’s important to consider your dog’s coat type, as a dog with a heavier coat will feel more comfortable on a chilly night than a dog with a shorter coat. It’s also important to assess the insulation of your dog’s house and any heating sources available. These factors can greatly impact whether or not your dog can sleep outside.

Can Puppies Sleep Outside in the Cold?

It is not safe to leave puppies outside during the winter. Puppies are not as good at regulating their body temperature as adult dogs, which makes them more susceptible to the cold. One of the reasons for this is that puppies have a small surface area to volume ratio, which means that they lose body heat more easily to the surroundings.

Furthermore, puppies are more vulnerable to diseases, and they need to be vaccinated by a vet during their first few months of life. Therefore, it is risky to expose them to the outdoors before they are vaccinated.

There is no specific age at which puppies can start sleeping outside, but it is generally safe to transition them between 4-6 months of age. Even if your puppy seems to tolerate the cold well, it is still best to wait until after they are vaccinated before allowing them to sleep outside.

However, even after your puppy has transitioned to the outdoors, it is important to provide them with proper insulation, such as a dog house, crate cover, and a heating pad or kennel heater.

In summary, it is not safe to keep puppies outside during the winter due to their limited ability to regulate their body temperature and their susceptibility to diseases. Vaccinations are essential for their health and well-being, and it is best to wait until after they are vaccinated before transitioning them to sleeping outdoors. Proper insulation is also crucial to protect your puppy from the cold.

The Risks of Letting Your Dog Sleep Outside in the Winter

There are a ton of risks for outside dogs in winter, most of which are related to health. These are major factors in deciding if dogs can sleep outdoors in the winter.

Dog Frostbite

examples of canine frostbites
Examples of paw and ear frostbites on dogs.

If you expose your dog to extremely cold temperatures, then he could get frostbite. This is a condition in which the body’s extremes lose blood flow which can lead to tissue death.

Usually, though, frostbite isn’t life-threatening. As you expose your dog to cold temperatures for extended periods, its body would try to keep its vital organs warm. These organs, like the heart, are vital for the dog’s body to survive. For that, the body pumps more blood to these organs and less of it to the extremes like paws, tail, and ears. This isn’t fatal for a small period of time but could result in tissue death if prolonged.

The symptoms of frostbite in dogs include the skin in the extremes going pale and white. If it proceeds and the skin turns dark, it’s a sign of tissue death that can require amputation. Naturally, if you touch that part of the body, it would feel immensely cold and brittle.

If your dog is suffering from frostbite, you should immediately take him to the vet. For first aid, warm a towel to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and apply it to the affected area. Make sure you don’t rub or squeeze. Once you start warming the affected areas, make sure you keep them warm and don’t expose them to the cold again. Frostbite is a major concern when considering whether dogs can sleep outdoors.


canine hypothermia temperature
if your dog’s body temperature drops below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, medical attention is urgently required.

Even though the previous condition on this list isn’t life-threatening, hypothermia is. In easier terms, hypothermia refers to low body temperature. Often, dogs suffer from hypothermia due to extended exposure to excessively cold temperatures. In this condition, the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dogs are at a greater risk of hypothermia if they are wet or exposed to snow. Also, chilly winds can further increase the chances of hypothermia. Make sure your dog stays indoors during the night when it’s well below 40 degrees.

When that happens, it’s hard for dogs to breathe and the heart rate falls drastically as well. Both these symptoms can prove to be fatal, if not treated. So, if your dog experiences them, it’s extremely important to rush him to the vet. Other symptoms include visible weakness, cold body, dilated pupils and pale gums and eyelids.

If a dog gets hypothermia, you should immediately bring him to a warm room, apply warm towels and take him to the vet.


Believe it or not, your dog can get the sniffles as well. It’s common for dogs that sleep outdoors to get colds due to a number of viruses and bacteria. The symptoms of dog cold are quite similar to what humans face. A pooch with a cold would have a runny nose, cough, watery eyes, and would feel tired and lethargic.

Now, how do you treat a dog’s cold? Just like in the case of humans, you don’t necessarily need to medicate. However, if your dog seems to be uncomfortable, consider visiting the vet. Your vet would prescribe medication based on the type of virus your dog has.

With that said, there are many home remedies that you can try for your dog’s treatment as well. Just like us, Fido’s nasal passageway can be cleared with the help of some steam. So, a good ol’ steam bath ought to do the trick! Also, make sure your dog drinks a lot and also has good meals as well. Many dogs tend to eat less when they’re sick (don’t all of us?). But you’d want to keep your dog energized by maintaining his usual diet. You can also use a Vitamin C-rich diet to treat your mutt.

If your dog has been coughing around, then you’re probably thinking if it’s contagious. If the cold symptoms are the same between man and dog, then is it possible that you could get a cold from your dog (or vice versa)? Not at all. The viruses that cause colds in man and dog are completely different and can not transfer between species.

What Can I do to help my dog sleep outside in the winter?

In 2018, a Montco woman let her dog sleep outdoors in 20 degrees of frost, as a result of which the poor thing died. This is right out animal cruelty and that’s what the police charged for as well.

If you’re letting your dog sleep outdoors in the winter, that’s completely your choice. However, it’s your responsibility to keep him warm through the night. So, in this section, we’ll go over some of the most common ways you can keep your dog warm if he sleeps outdoors.

Insulated Dog House

The first thing that you should be buying for an outdoor dog is an insulated dog house. However, for harsh winters, you don’t just need any house. What you need is a heated outdoor kennel in order to ensure a comfortable temperature, especially as night.

Now, what’s an insulated dog house? It’s one that has the ability to retain heat inside it. Manufacturers make these houses from insulating materials like plastic. They’re also smaller in size so as to avoid heat dissipation. Usually, they’ll have just enough space for the dog to coop up inside it.

Insulated dog houses aren’t just useful for the winter, but also for the summer as well since they remain cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. With an insulated house, dogs sleeping outside during winter are not an issue at all.

How To Keep Puppies and Dogs Warm?
How To Keep Puppies and Dogs Warm?

Dog Heater

Dog heaters are an efficient way to keep your mutt warm during the night. However, you can’t use every dog heater outdoors. So, make sure you read through the product’s listing online or ask questions from the store manager before purchasing one. Some heaters that are designed for indoor use won’t hold well against the elements. So, you’d want to be absolutely sure that you’re not wasting any money here.

Also, consider the safety features of your dog heater. You see, Fido is going to be on his own in the night and you don’t want to leave him with an electric heating appliance that can possibly burn him. Some high-end manufacturers use specific safety features to keep dogs a certain distance away from the heater. This helps in avoiding overheating or burning.

You’d also want to make sure that the heater has a fantastic thermostat. There’s absolutely no compromise on this one. If your heater’s thermostat isn’t accurate, it could easily under or overheat your dog.

Heat Lamps

Heat lamps are one of the most useful methods of keeping dogs warm in the cold night. What are they? Well, they’re infrared bulbs in a lamp. These bulbs emit heat that dogs absorb. You can hang these bubs on the inside wall of your outdoor dog house. Make sure you point it towards your dog and that your dog house isn’t too big or small.

However, there is a risk of overheating or even burning your dog with a heat lamp. So, observe your pooch regularly throughout the first day that you install a heat lamp. Usually, a 100-Watt bulb would keep about 5 cubic meters warm.

Heated Pads

These are another useful addition to outdoor dog houses. With heated pads, your dog gets a warm pad to lie on. These pads are often electric and can be used overnight. Just make sure the cord is anti-chew. Good manufacturers use metallic rods so there’s a lesser chance of your dog chewing it.

What Dog Breeds Can Endure Extremely Cold Weather?

Not all dog breeds can handle cold weather equally well. Some breeds have developed adaptations over time to withstand freezing temperatures. Here are a few examples of dog breeds that can thrive in cold climates:

These dogs are able to sleep outside in the winter, as long as the temperature isn’t too extreme. One adaptation that helps them stay warm is their thick, long coat. Most of these breeds come from colder regions, so they’ve also evolved to cope with the cold.

However, each dog is unique and may have their own preferences. Even if they come from a breed that’s well-suited to cold weather, they may not enjoy it.

Smaller dogs may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and having some extra fat can provide insulation. But it’s important not to overfeed your dog, as this can lead to health problems.

In summary, some dog breeds are better adapted to cold weather than others. Dogs with thick, long coats are able to stay warm in freezing temperatures, but it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s individual needs and preferences.

What is the Right Temperature to Let my Dog Sleep Outside?

The suitable temperature for dogs to sleep outdoors in the winter depends on several factors such as the dog’s breed, size, and fur thickness. Generally, dogs with thicker and longer fur can handle the cold better than those with thinner coats. Larger dogs are also more comfortable in the cold than smaller dogs.

Veterinarian Jennifer Coates, DVM, advises that when the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, dogs that are sensitive to the cold, like Greyhounds, can start feeling uncomfortable. At around 32 degrees, these dogs are in danger of getting too cold. However, all dogs are at risk of hypothermia when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Besides temperature, wind, and dampness can also make dogs feel cold. If you want your dog to sleep outdoors in the winter, you need to make sure they stay warm. You can buy an insulated dog house and use heating pads, lamps, or dog heaters to regulate their temperature. However, never leave your dog outside on an extremely chilly night, and watch out for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If you suspect your dog is sick, take them to the vet immediately.

Dogs can sleep outdoors in the winter if you make sure their temperature is being regulated properly. For that, you can buy an insulated dog house and use dog heaters, heating pads, and lamps. Make sure you’re looking out for frostbite and hypothermia and never take a risk of letting your dogs sleep outside in a particularly chilly night. If your dog shows any signs of sickness, rush him to the vet as soon as possible.

One comment on “Can Dogs Sleep Outside In The Winter”

  1. Barbara Keehn

    Breeding of companion animals should be outlawed or highly regulated and taxed to help with overpopulation.
    Even if all breeding stopped today we would still be euthanizing thousands of animals a day because there is no place for them. There is no trait no color no breed that is so precious that you cannot find it in your local shelter or from an animal rescue group. Each and every one of these companion animals has their own separate soul not one of them deserves to die because they are not the right color or breed.
    It is highly irresponsible and cruel to continue to breed more when overpopulation is such a problem.

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