Senior Moments: Keeping Your Old Dog Warm in the Cold

Senior Moments: Keeping Your Old Dog Warm in the Cold

red

by Hindy Pearson

Red, my sweet old dog, the love of my life, really feels the cold.

I was living in Florida volunteering at a shelter when I found my little sweetheart. Shelter staff guestimated her age at 8 years old, and I can only assume she spent her life in Florida. Being a Chihuahua/Min Pin she has very short fur, and combine that with her being the ripe old age of 15 (based on the guess of 8, 7 years ago!!), she shivers easily.

I must say after all these years with her, I’m a very good human thermometer. I know exactly when it’s time to put the sweater back on, and when it’s okay to take it off. It’s been about 3 weeks since I opened the cupboard to the coats and sweaters, and after several months of freedom, she’s back to wearing them. I can see how much more comfortable she’s feeling.

 

What can I offer you here?

 

In this post I will not only share the things I do to keep Red warm, but general tips to help you keep your old dog warm and comfortable.

 

Let’s get started!!

 

Where to put the bed(s)

 

I say beds because it’s a good idea to have more than one in your home, no matter how old your dog is. They want to be with the family, not off in some room by themselves. Having “beds” gives them the option of where they want to be, without having to walk too far to get comfortable.

 

Red has a few of differing styles, and I never move them. Mainly because she’s blind and knows where they are, but also because she’s always with us. No need to mess with a good thing.

Wherever you choose, it must be a draft free spot.

 

Blankets

 

Blankets are essential in my house, and should be in yours as well. Every dog bed and crate has a blanket, and the couch does too when Red is sitting with me (like she is now as I write this!!).

 

It provides extra cushion should she need it, but even more important, it’s there should she feel a bit chilled. Even with a sweater and heating she sometimes shivers, so she wraps herself up and creates a cocoon.

 

Heating mats/pads/hot water bottles

 

I’m not a fan of electric heating mats or pads, only because I would worry about the cord. I’m not knocking them, but Red being blind gives me cause for concern. I have used a hot water bottle under her comforter, and self-heating/microwavable pads are definitely worth looking into.

 

Red is such a huge fan of blankets, nothing can replace them.

 

Home and room heating

 

I don’t like to be cold in the house, and I’m definitely not someone who keeps a window open in the winter. The temperature of your home is obviously no business of mine, but I do advise you to keep the room where your senior dog sleeps, warm. I usually have my central heating on a timer, but there is always a radiator on low in my bedroom and living room, the two places Red likes to sleep.

 

Type of flooring makes a difference

 

Carpet obviously is warmer than tile for example, but you’re not likely to put carpeting down just to keep the dog warm. Are you? Putting a small area rug, a few carpet squares, or even a blanket underneath her bed, will prevent direct contact with a cold floor.

 

Grooming

 

Dogs still need to get groomed, no matter the temperature outside. Because Red’s hair doesn’t grow, she only goes to the groomer to have her nails done. My husband gives her a bath, so the only difference winter makes is he does it inside.

 

If you insist on clipping your old dog very short no matter the weather, a sweater or a coat is in order.

 

Outdoor apparel

 

I bundle up when it’s cold out, and I’m sure you do too. What about your elderly dog? He may have plenty of fur, but he also may be feeling the cold more than he used to.

Red wears a sweater in the house, all day and all night, and when we go out she also wears a coat. We visited family a couple of times in Canada in the winter, and that was tough on her. It was too cold, and the salt made it even more impossible.

 

I wish I had a video, or at least pictures of my attempts at getting Red to wear booties. Suffice it to say I was less than successful. I did buy the paw protection wax for the bottom of her paws and it made a huge difference. She was actually able to walk a bit outside thanks to it.

If you live in that kind of climate, you probably have loads of sweaters and coats, and already found the perfect paw protection for your dog.

 

Towels at the ready

 

I keep a towel near the front door to wipe Red’s paws, and any other part of her that got wet after her walk. When I dry my dogs off I take the opportunity to turn it into a massage session. Some bonding time and the hedonists in them appreciate it.

If your dog has been out in the snow, dip his paws in some warm water to remove snow, ice and salt then dry him thoroughly.

 

Living outdoors

 

First let me say I really hope your dog doesn’t live outside. Why bother having one if he lives his life alone in the yard? Find a good home for him.

 

If I can’t do anything to change your mind, at least do everything you can to keep him warm.

 

That means getting a dog house, elevating it slightly off the ground, and insulating it with straw. Be sure the shelter has an overhang to protect the inside from snow and rain, and a flap on the door. A heater would be good, or at least a microwavable pad that stays warm for hours. There are water bowls that prevent water from freezing, so you’ll need one of those as well.

 

Have you changed your mind about keeping him outside yet?

 

Is that water really frozen?

 

This last point is probably pretty obvious, but seeing as I rarely have an unexpressed thought, I have to mention it.

 

The sight of a frozen lake or pond, icicles hanging from nearby trees is a truly stunning visual, at least it is for me, but is it really frozen?

 

I know how tempting it is to slide across it with the dog…don’t.

 

Keeping your old dog warm in the cold – conclusion

 

Red is a Florida girl living in England, and I know she’d rather be sitting in the sun right now… but what can I do? I make her super comfortable, keep her warm and love her as much as I possibly can.

 

I do hope you found these tips on keeping your old dog warm, helpful.

 

This post was written by author Hindy Pearson. She is a long time shelter volunteer, dog trainer, and runs the Saffy Pearson Resource Centre. A mobile centre offering free advice for people who share their lives with cats and dogs. She has a website called Caring For a Senior Dog and thinks the pet stroller is the greatest invention.