When you are camping with your pooch, it’s important to keep them warm, an especially common worry during the fall and winter months. It can also be important during the spring and summer if you live or are camping in an area where the weather dips during the nighttime.
Keeping your dog warm while camping will keep them healthy and comfortable – and not let you get stressed either! It can minimize flare-ups of health issues like canine arthritis, which may occur more commonly when your dog gets cold.
There are lots of ways to keep your dog warm when you are camping, just like there are plenty of ways to keep you warm while out in the wilderness. Plan on ways to keep your pet warm at any time of year when you are outdoors, so that they have an enjoyable trip with you.
1. Keep your dog dry
The first step towards keeping your dog warm when camping is to keep them dry. Make sure they stay in the tent with you when it is raining outside.
You might even consider a jacket or weather beating suit for them to wear when it is cold or rainy to boost the natural protection that their fur provides.
Other ways to keep them warm include blankets and hot water bottles, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
2. Feed your dog more
When you are camping and it is going to be cold outside, you should consider giving your dog more food as the extra calories will help to keep him or her warm in the colder weather.
This also helps keep their energy up, as you are often moving more and expending more energy when you are out exploring the great outdoors.
According to PetMD (view website), your dog may need as much as two to three times the number of calories when it is cold and they are active as compared to warmer weather. You will want to make sure that the food you are using is healthy for your pet, so it is less likely to cause an upset stomach such as by feeding too many treats.
Instead, increase the amount of normal dog food your dog is getting or give them healthy foods, such as cooked chicken and rice.
3. Cuddle up with your dog
An easy way to keep your dog warm with you while you are out camping is to cuddle up to him or her, especially at night. Most dogs love to cuddle and will sleep next to you, especially with encouragement. Sharing body heat can also help keep you warm too if you have a large, fluffy dog.
You can share your sleeping bag with your pup to also conserve heat. If your dog doesn’t like to sleep right next to you, you might want a larger sleeping bag, such as a double sleeping bag, to give your dog plenty of room.
This can also help keep you from waking each other up as either of you toss and turn during the night.
Handy Hint: We’ve previously blogged about where your dog should sleep when you camp.
4. Use sleeping bags
Instead of using your sleeping bag, you can consider getting your dog his or her own sleeping bag. This gives your furry friend plenty of room for themselves, allowing them to stretch out during the night.
There are a variety of options for sleeping bags, such as Ruffwear. You can see their range of hybrid dog sleeping bags and beds on Amazon.
Giving your dog their own space can be more comfortable for you and for them. If they get too warm cuddled up next to you during the night in your sleeping bag, they can move over to their own sleeping bag.
You will want to find one that is lightweight and easy to carry, although most are only a couple of pounds when rolled up and added to your camping gear. Like your sleeping bag, you want your dog’s sleeping bag to be weather resistant, and ideally it dries quickly if it does get wet.
Your dog’s sleeping bag can be used more than just when camping. If you spend the day at a park or visiting a friend’s house, you can bring your dog’s sleeping bag for them to rest in after they’ve run around all day. This can give your pup a much-needed break, especially if they are an older model.
5. Bring a blanket
You can also bring a blanket or two for your dog to cuddle up with, and it can double as something to keep you warm. It’s even better if you use a blanket that your dog knows is for their use, to keep them comfortable and relaxed.
This can also help provide a “home base” for your pooch, which can help keep them happy when camping with you. Supplying one of their favorite toys with their blanket is a great way to keep your dog happy while out in the wilderness, just make sure it’s one that they’ll be okay with having get lost if something were to happen.
When selecting a blanket, you don’t want one that is too thick, because that is added weight for you to carry and can be hard to dry if it gets wet. Instead, pick a lightweight blanket that will dry easily to bring for your pup.
If they’re light enough, you could opt to bring two blankets, one to keep them warm initially and another to swap out and use if the first gets damp from your dog’s paws. This method allows you to always have a blanket to use for your dog.
6. Hot water bottles
A hot water bottle can be an easy way to keep your dog — and you — warm when it is cold outside. You will need to have a way to heat water during your camping trip, so this is something you should plan for ahead of time while prepping for your trip.
Get your hot water as hot as you can get it and then carefully pour it into the hot water bottle. You will need to be careful as it is possible for your dog to get too warm with the water bottle and have it burn him or her.
Separating it from directly touching their skin is a great way to keep this from happening. Simply place the water bottle under a blanket or wrap it in a shirt to keep it from making direct contact with your dog’s skin. You should test the hot water bottle against yourself before giving it to your dog, to make sure they are not going to burn themselves.
7. Wearing a coat
A coat for your dog is an easy way to keep them warm by providing extra layers. You will want to get them used to the coat or jacket before you use it on a camping trip when it is really needed to make sure that your dog will tolerate it.
One suggested way of handling the coat is to teach your dog to enjoy wearing it, associating it with their favorite treat or toy. You can develop a system where your dog lets you know that he or she wants to wear the coat, by encouraging them to go to it.
When you have it on them, you can try taking it off as well. If your dog resists you taking it off, they are likely comfortable wearing it, just make sure they don’t get overheated while wearing it.
You will also want to make sure that the coat stays dry and remove it if it gets wet, as that can cause your dog to get chilled.
8. Insulate your tent properly
If you don’t insulate your tent properly, then you and your dog aren’t going to be warm. We spoke to an ex-military guy who gave his tips on how to insulate a tent.
Signs your dog is too cold when camping
If you are out camping with your dog, and he or she exhibits some of these problems below, they are likely too cold, and you need to get them back home or find a way to warm them up. Try some of the methods outlined above.
If your dog is shivering or whimpering, they are likely too cold. Touch your dog: are they cold to the touch? If so, you need to get to warming them back up.
Some cold dogs will act lethargic, and this can also mean that they are sick, so pay attention to how your dog is acting.
Your dog might also act restless or pace the tent if they are cold. Once again, work on warming them up to get them comfortable again.