How To Keep Your Dog Warm During Camping: 6 Helpful Tips

by Julie | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
How To Keep Your Dog Warm During Camping: 6 Helpful Tips

There are millions of dog-lovers in the world who love to bring their canine companions with them almost anywhere they go. As such, it is very common to see people and dogs at campsites. What better camping companion could you have with you? Camping with your dog is fun and makes for another enjoyable adventure for you and your pup, but it also means extra preparation.

Even though spring may be here, it still isn’t quite warm enough yet. So, if you’re camping with your dog you’ll have to know the best way to make sure they are warm and comfortable. We’ll provide you with the tips and tricks to keep your dog warm while camping during the cool weather of spring, fall, and even the harsher winter months.

There will be additional camping gear for you to bring like plenty of nutrient-rich food, a large blanket, a packable dog bed, and much more. There are some dogs that do very well in colder temperatures and others that will really need a lot of extra layers to help keep them warm. So, knowing your dog and your dog’s body and fur can go a long way.

Now, let’s discuss what you need to keep your dog warm on these extended outdoor adventures.

How Cold is Too Cold to Take a Dog Camping?

Every dog is different and some are better equipped for colder weather than others. A dog’s body temperature is higher than a human, being 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take one degree). Once their temperature reaches around 98 degrees is when they’ll become susceptible to hypothermia.

Thinner-framed dogs with shorter fur, like greyhounds, will get cold faster and easier than others with longer fur, like huskies. Most dogs are fine at temperatures around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and above.

Once the temperature outside drops to freezing, around 32 degrees, is when some like older dogs, puppies, thin-haired and smaller dogs, will need some sort of protection like a sweater or blanket. But when the cold weather really sets in and your area starts experiencing temperatures in the 20 degrees and lower temperatures, is when it can get dangerous and concerning for your dog. You never want to leave your dog outside for long in those temperatures.

So, in springtime and fall time when the temperatures may be in the 50 to 60-degree range will be much more comfortable. If it does drop to those cooler temperatures at night in the 40s or high 30s, then you can be sure to bring a blanket for your dog, especially if you know they don’t handle the cooler weather well.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Cold While Sleeping?

Much like people, dogs will show you if they’re cold or not. Even while they sleep, you can notice the signs. If your dog is cold while sleeping they might be shivering, whining, covering their nose and mouth with their paws, or curling into a tight ball to conserve body heat. They might even try to press close to you to stay warm and get under the blanket or sleeping bag.

Sometimes it may be more subtle, but you will definitely notice if your dog begins expressing any of these characteristics. Especially if they start shivering and whining. If you notice your dog is doing this, then you need to help warm them up.

Give them an extra layer of blankets, or smaller dogs could even cozy up in your sleeping bag with you. Everyone knows that dogs love to snuggle in bed with you every chance they get!

Check out this video to learn more about the different signs of if your dog is cold and if they need a coat:

Cold Weather Camping Gear For Dogs

There is a large variety of camping gear for your dog out there to find that will protect them and function to keep your dog warm. You’ll have to pack them in their own camping bag as well as your own!

Below we will list the camping gear items that you’ll want to bring for your dogs if you’ll be experiencing cold temperatures on your planned camping trip:

  • Dog coat or jacket: like a parka that will help them to stay warm and retain heat in their core. You can find them in various sizes.
  • Full-body dog coat: this may be a better option for dogs like greyhounds and whippets, those that have thin and short fur which means they get cold easily.
  • Dog booties or shoes: which will not only help to keep their paws warm and dry but protect them from sharp rocks or ice that could injure their paws (make sure they’re water resistant!). Not every dog is keen on wearing booties, so you’ll have to see how they handle having something on their paws if they’re not already trained for it.
  • Dog bed: you can find a portable camping dog bed pretty easily and it is essential for helping to keep a dog warm. Just like you use a sleeping pad, your dog will need a bed or sleeping mat to block the cold that will seep through the bare tent floor.
    • As alternative options, you can also use a camping mat, inflatable sleeping mat, or any other kind of sleeping pad. Getting one that is scratch resistant or claw resistant too is a good idea so your dog won’t accidentally tear or pop it.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag: they do in fact make dog sleeping bags for camping. Which is pretty convenient and will definitely help to make the perfect outdoor dog bed when it’s cold. Having both a dog bed and sleeping bag will be especially helpful to breeds that are sensitive to cold.
  • Water bottle: no matter when you go camping, you’ll need to have a way to give your dog water. So, packing a water bottle for your dog is essential. It is also another tool you can use to help keep your dog warm while camping. By heating it up, you can use a warm water bottle to warm up the blankets or bed they’ll be sleeping on, or let them curl up around the warm bottle.
  • Dog food: this goes without saying that you should be certain to pack your dog plenty of dog food. Having more food in cold weather will help keep your dog warm because they’ll need the energy to maintain their body heat.

These are all items that will assist in keeping your dog safe and warm during the day and all night long when it gets cold. Keeping them off the cold ground is a major factor alone, as well as keeping your dog dry. There is always the option to get a portable heater as well which will keep everyone warm. It could be well worth it if your dog doesn’t tolerate the cold well, but you both enjoy camping even during the cooler seasons.

To see more gear and what you should pack for your dog while camping you can watch this video here:

Is it Okay To Cover Dogs With Blankets?

Yes, it is fine to put a blanket over your dog, small dogs particularly those that are susceptible to cold would greatly benefit from having a little blanket covering them at night. Laying down a fleece blanket, down blanket, or similar, in your dog’s bed while tent camping will keep your dog warm.

They can use the blanket to cover themselves, or for their nesting when settling down at night. The extra layer blocking them from the cold ground will prevent them from getting too cold. You can even get them their own sleeping bag so that they don’t have to sleep inside, but just laying on it can work much the same.

Can My Dog Sleep In My Car Overnight?

Not unless you are sleeping in the car with them. It is a typical rule of thumb to always have your dog sleep with you in the same room or space that you’re sleeping in. When camping there is always the possibility of other wildlife being around, so you’re dog can not only alert you to keep you safe, but it will keep them safe as well.

It will also keep them quiet. If your dog is sleeping in the car alone they could experience anxiety, or whenever they hear something they’ll start barking like crazy because they don’t know what it is, and you aren’t close by to comfort them. All in all, it is best for your dog to be sleeping with you, no matter where that is. And in cold weather, it will keep both you and your dog warm.

Can Dogs Get Hypothermia And Frostbite?

The simple answer is yes. Dogs can indeed get hypothermia and frostbite. A dog’s average body temperature is around 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so if it drops to 98 degrees or lower, then your dog is at a real risk of hypothermia. This will express itself by your dog becoming very lethargic and even clumsy.

They can also get frostbite much as people can. A dog’s skin is sensitive and breeds with very short and thin hair as highly susceptible to frostbite.

You can notice the signs of frostbite in your dog if you notice a patch of skin that has turned blue, if their skin is cold to the touch, or if there is any pain or swelling. On a cold day, you always want to make sure you and your dog are prepared for the weather. If needed you should dress them in a dog jacket, sweater, and booties to protect them.

Remember that a cold dog’s symptoms include shivering, whining, curling into a tight ball, or covering their nose and mouth to retain their body heat.

More Tips For Camping With Your Dog

Keeping your dog warm while camping is an important factor. You both want to be enjoying your time outdoors, so ensuring that you are both prepared to deal with cold weather conditions is the key to success. Smaller dogs are less well-equipped to handle cold conditions than some large dogs. So, when you’re tent camping you should have prepared some items that keep a dog warm even if the temperature drops.

One such preparation could be using a portable heater. They’re small and convenient, and you can find some that are reasonably priced. Though, even if you have a portable heater, you should still prepare alternatives if that isn’t enough or if something happens to it.

These include ways to keep your dog’s body heat up like through the use of hot water bottles. A hot water bottle in a coozie is a surprisingly efficient means of heat that will last through the night. You can use it as a make-shift heater on your dogs’ beds and blankets so they have another outside source of heat working to keep them warm.

Nutrient-rich foods will help your dog to stay warm. Just like you need to eat certain foods while backpacking to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients needed for the energy required to hike and manage the elements, dogs need the same thing.

Keep your dog warm in colder weather by bringing a dog’s sleeping bag for them to go on their bed. It will keep your dog warmer by combining the two so that they are off the cold ground and have an extra layer of blanket or sleeping bag that they can use to snuggle into and cover themselves. It will come in its own carry bag that you should be able to easily fit into your pack.

If your dog shows signs of being cold by whining, shivering, curling up tightly, trying to cover themselves with available blankets or anything, then you’ll want to do what you can to get your dogs warm again. Extra blankets, a dog bed, sleeping bags, warm water bottles, and when outside during the day in the cold: booties, and a dog jacket will keep your dog warm and protected while cold weather camping.

Key Insights & Takeaways

Camping is a great way to get outside and stay active no matter the weather, and most would agree that the best companion to have on these trips is your dog. It does require you to pack more gear, but it is all worth it for the both of you to enjoy time together. You want to be prepared for the weather and possibilities so be sure you know and understand your dogs’ tolerance of temperatures when they’re comfortable and when they seem to be adverse once the temperature falls.

Keeping your dog warm is important so that they don’t get hypothermia or frostbite which can be as dangerous to them as much as it is to you. Be prepared with cold-weather camping gear for yourself and your dog so that they can stay dry and safe every time you both go out on an outdoor adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How cold is too cold for dog camping?

Once temperatures start reaching freezing and below (32 degrees and lower) is when you may second guess bringing your dog camping with you. There are some breeds like malamutes or Siberian huskies that are built for snow and freezing temperatures, but there are a lot that don’t have nearly that kind of cold tolerance.

If you don’t have the means or camping gear to help keep your dog warm while camping in those temperatures, then don’t bring them. It’s better for them to stay safe and warm at home instead.

Do dogs need a sleeping pad for camping?

Yes, they need some sort of padding or bed that they can lay on to protect them from the cold that will be seeping in from the ground and through the floor of the tent. If you need a sleeping pad, then so does your dog.

There are portable camping dog beds that are more convenient for packing out, or you can use a sleeping pad like the one you use for your dog as well. Having an additional layer of blankets or a sleeping bag on top of the bed as well will further prevent your dog from getting cold through the night.

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I was fishing before I could walk and it's been a family tradition for centuries. Fishing is my life, or at least as long as I can remember. In the Lake Champlain International Fathers Day Fishing Derby, not only have I won first place twice but also third place! Also, in addition to majoring in Wilderness Recreation Leadership, I also happen to be a licensed camping, hiking, and hunting guide for NY.