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How To Keep Dogs Warm When Camping

January 08 2021

happy dog in camping Camping with your dog can make the entire experience that much better, especially for those of us who are camping enthusiasts. But our furry friends need to stay warm just as much as we do, especially in the winter months.

Whether you’re going for a light trek in the mountains or a full-blown winter camping trip, here are some tips I’ve put together for how to keep dogs warm when camping.

What You’ll Need

  • Your dog (of course)
  • An extra hot water bottle
  • A shirt or hot water bottle cover: A hot water bottle cover will probably be more insulating and keep it warmer for longer, but a shirt will work in a pinch if you don’t have one.
  • A doggy sleeping bag
  • Extra blankets
  • A sleeping mat
  • A doggy coat
  • A winterized tent (if you’re camping in winter)
  • Doggy boots
  • A vigilant eye

Keeping Your Dog Warm

Winterize Your Tent (If It’s Winter)

Tent in winter forest I spoke a bit about winterizing your tent in a previous how-to. The basic principle of winterizing your tent is that you need to insulate it as much as possible. For a more detailed step-by-step, check out my full post here.

A winterized tent is just as important for your dog as it is for you. In the winter months, you will need to keep your dog as warm as possible, especially at night. Insulating your tent through winterizing is the best way to do just that.

Get a Doggy Sleeping Bag

A dog rests in a sleeping bag in front of a canoe boat at camping site.
If your dog is going to be sleeping on its own, then it will need to have its own sleeping bag. There are a variety of doggy sleeping bags on the market right now, so take your time choosing the best one for your dog.

When choosing a sleeping bag for your dog, you’ll want to find something that covers your dog on all sides for extra warmth. Sizing is also essential. You don’t want something too small, and getting something too big adds unnecessary weight to your baggage.

Durability, thickness, and water-resistance are also important to keep in mind. If you go camping a lot in wetter environments, then you’ll want something extra durable and water-proof.

A sleeping bag will allow your dog to stay insulated at night and warm itself up with its own body heat - just like you would.

Make sure to keep the sleeping bag clean and dry throughout the trip.

Put Down a Sleeping Mat and Blankets

Dog rests by the campfire in the dusk, low key image. Camping, hiking vacation with pets in the forest, active rest outdoors

Put down a sleeping mat and some blankets for your dog wherever he’s going to sleep.

One of the biggest ways we (and our companions) lose heat at night is through the ground, so it’s important to build up some bottom layers for your dog. A sleeping mat and some blankets are perfect for this because they are both thick and insulating.

A blanket your dog knows can be useful for this because the familiar texture and smell will help them feel at home and know where to sleep. Pile up the blankets as high as you’d like, the more the better.

We recommend our OneLoft Alternative Down Blanket.

Just like the sleeping bag, ensure that these are kept clean and dry.

Get a Doggy Coat

If you need to layer up, then so should your dog. Figuring out when your dog does and doesn’t need the layers can be a little tricky, but this will usually depend on their breed, and if you learn your dog’s needs and behaviors then it will be a lot easier.

There are quite a few doggy jumpers, jerseys, and jackets on the market at the moment, so make sure to pick one that suits their needs.

If you’re going full winter camping, then a thicker waterproof jacket will be necessary, but if it’s just a little chilly then you might only need a small outer layer for your dog.

A doggy coat can be useful both for when you’re out hiking and when you’re going to sleep for the night. It will keep your dog protected from the elements while also acting as an extra layer of insulation when it gets dark.

Get Doggy Boots

This is specifically important for when you’re out hiking - especially if it’s particularly cold. Doggy boots will keep your dog’s paws warm while you’re outdoors, both day and night.

I would particularly recommend these if it’s raining or snowing because moisture is a one-way ticket to heat loss. Protecting your dog’s feet will help them stay warm and dry, and will mean that you won’t need to warm them up as much once you bed down.

Give Your Dog a Hot Water Bottle

As with people, a hot water bottle is one of the best ways to warm up your dog at night. Sleeping with one gives your dog an external heat source to help warm themselves up.

Make sure to wrap the hot water bottle in a cover or a shirt. This will prevent your dog from burning themselves on it while also keeping the bottle insulated. The insulation will help prevent the bottle from losing heat to the cold air and it will stay warmer for longer.

You can put the hot water bottle inside your dog’s sleeping bag for a bit before he goes to sleep. Doing this will warm the air up inside the sleeping bag and make it nice and toasty for when he goes to bed.

Cuddle Your Dog

girl hug resting dog together in forest campsite

What better way to spend a cold night in the outdoors than cuddling your dog? This is one of the best ways to warm up both you and your dog because the shared body heat will warm you both up faster than either of you could on your own.

This is a great way for you and your dog to bond while camping in the cold, and is honestly what I consider the best part of camping with my dog. If either of you gets too warm during the night then you can just move over, but it’s really great for the most frigid parts of the night.

Keep an Eye on Your Dog

The happy couple with dog haski at the forest nature park in cold season.
If you’re camping in winter, then it’s very important to keep a vigilant eye on your dog for any signs of it getting too cold. If your dog seems agitated, lethargic, or if he’s whimpering or shivering then warm up your dog, fast. Break out the hot water bottle and the blankets, and make sure it’s warm and insulated.

Don’t take any risks. If your dog seems as if it’s getting hurt or sick from the cold, then turn back and go home. Get your dog to a vet and take care of him until he’s better.

Having your dog with you while you camp can be one of the most memorable experiences.

Having a companion to explore and play with can make the whole trip that much more fun - but it’s important to make sure that you take care of your dog by keeping him warm when it’s cold.

Hopefully, this list has helped show you the best ways to do that.

Which tips did you find the most helpful for you and your dog? Let me know down in the comments! Don’t forget to share with any other campers with furry friends if you thought this was useful.