How To Keep Dogs Warm When Camping

Even though they have their own natural coat, dogs can get chilly, so it’s important to know how to keep your dog warm when you’re out in the cold on a camping trip. Some of these suggestions are similar to those that keep our families warm on chilly evenings.

Bring a Blanket for Your Dog

Your dog can easily gain additional warmth from a simple layer. It’s a great idea to bring your dog’s favorite blanket from home if you’re going camping.

Keep Warm with Snuggles and Cuddles

Nothing beats snuggling with your dog through the night, and doing so in the tent will help you generate the additional body heat you need to stay warm and comfortable. Make sure your tent is the appropriate size for the amount of people so that less chilly air condenses in the tent with you for added warmth.

Have Nutrient Rich Treatsand Plenty of Water

For dogs to stay warm while camping, feeding them food that is strong in protein and nutrients is a great idea. Your dog gets the energy he needs from the protein and nutrients to keep his body temperature stable throughout the chilly evenings.

When camping with a dog, how cold is too cold?

Every dog owner is aware of the value of exercise for their canine companion. But it can be challenging to determine whether it’s too chilly to go outside when Old Man Winter dumps inches of snow and arctic temperatures on your area.

A Good Rule of Paw is…

Dogs don’t experience the cold as strongly as people with two legs. Usually, as long as the temperature is higher than 45 degrees F, they will feel comfortable. If it’s below 40 degrees outside, you should reconsider leaving Fido outside for an extended amount of time.

Can Your Pup Handle the Great Outdoors Today?

All dogs are equal in our hearts, but not all canines can withstand the cold. Consider these factors when determining whether or not your dog can spend some time outside:

  • Size/Weight: Your dog’s size is maybe the most crucial factor to take into account. Smaller dogs will experience the cold much more quickly than larger canines who carry more weight.
  • Type of coat: Take into account their coat as well. Your large dog could become cold more quickly than you realize if they have extremely thin hair.
  • Breed: Some dogs were just bred to survive the winter. Breeds that can endure extremely cold conditions include Huskies, St. Bernards, and Mastiffs.
  • Activity level: A young, energetic dog can frequently stay warm outside by running around. Your dog will become colder more quickly if they are older or prefer to relax while watching the world go by.

It’s critical to keep in mind that these are broad guidelines and not every dog may need to abide by them. No dog, no matter how big, should be kept outside all day or for prolonged periods of time; these only apply to playtime and walks.

Keeping Your Dog Warm

There are many methods you can keep your dog warm if he needs to go outside in the cold because nature is calling.

  • Put on some booties. Despite the fact that many dogs dislike wearing shoes, some do. Try to provide the best protection for the pup’s paws, which are the first to become cold.
  • Clothing. The extra layer of a warm sweater can be just what your dog needs to be cozy on a nighttime walk.
  • Once inside, brush him off. When you get back inside after taking your dog out in the snow, wipe him down with a fresh towel.

How can a dog stay warm while camping in a tent?

Most dogs require assistance staying warm outdoors in the winter, with the exception of breeds like Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies that were developed to survive in subfreezing temperatures. This entails giving them a warm outer layer and allowing them to sleep in the tent, camper, or lodge. You ought to bring:

  • An additional layer of insulation for your dog in the form of a jacket or vest. There are several choices available, including fleece-lined and waterproof ones. Select one that is weather-appropriately thick. Even while it might seem crazy to pack a doggie wardrobe, it’s a good idea to carry a few items so they can face the weather in comfort.
  • An absorbent towel—while winter camping, your dog is likely to get wet—bring a towel that can quickly dry them off.
  • Like you, Fido needs cushioning to protect him from the chilly ground via a bed or mattress, as well as a sleeping bag and blanket. To keep themselves and their dog warm, tent campers might also want to lay down a tarp. A tailored dog sleeping bag to wrap up in at night and a wool or fleece blanket to cover him will also make your doggie more comfortable.

How chilly of a tent can a dog sleep in?

Without blankets or other assistance, evening lows below 60 degrees F are too chilly for small, elderly, and short-coated dogs to camp in tents. Dogs that are in good health, have thick coats, and are accustomed to cold weather may feel at ease while camping in below-freezing temps.

Why such a broad range? The species of dog exhibits a great deal of variety. Compare a hairy, thick-coated Saint Bernard to a 5-pound, short-haired Chihuahua. It makes sense that the chihuahua would become colder more quickly.

The thermoneutral zone of a dog might be taken into account when assessing how cold is too cold for your dog. The usual temperature range where an animal can maintain body temperature without using energy to promote heat production or heat loss is known as the thermoneutral zone (TNZ). This range is typically between 68 and 86 degrees F for dogs.

Trying to determine your own dog’s tolerance for the cold? Follow the instructions I’ve put into the chart below from the Tufts Animal Condition and Care (TACC) scales.

The aforementioned chart is merely a guide, but it does provide you a decent place to start when trying to figure out when you should start bringing extra garments to keep your dog warm at night. Or for times when it is simply too cold to take your dog tent camping.

As you can see, a lot of things can influence what temperature your dog will feel comfortable tent camping. If you intend to camp in temps below 50 degrees and you have a toy breed dog that is younger than 6 months old, you probably need to be prepared to share your sleeping bag with your pet. And you shouldn’t even think about taking a little, young dog tent camping when it’s below 35 degrees.

However, if you have a husky that is accustomed to cold weather, that’s fantastic! With your dog, you can probably tent camp all winter. Just take a look at this brave human-dog team who trekked the entire Ice Age Trail in the dead of winter. However, if your dog has a thick coat, please use caution in the heat. Even more dangerous than freezing temperatures is heatstroke.


Snuggling is my first and preferred method because it actually does help dogs warm up. Charlie and I can’t fit in the sleeping bag at the same time because he weighs 70 pounds, so I’ll cover my thermarest with a blanket and lay on top of that. I’ll then unzip my sleeping bag and spread it out over us like a big blanket. He can cuddle up next to me while also being above insulation and behind the sleeping bag. He always appears to warm up most effectively this way.

Consider buying a sleeping bag or pad

The Ruffwear Sleeping Bag and the Ruffwear dog pad travel bed are just two examples of the many companies that now provide dog sleeping bags. They include a robust polyester outer shell that acts as a quick-drying, water-resistant layer to guarantee that your dog will keep warm and dry in inclement weather. Dog sleeping bags and/or pads are lightweight and small. Your dog can curl up between two layers of their own sack, just like a human does, to generate warmth from its own body heat.

Buy a doggie puffy coat

I prefer to cover Charlie in a soft puffy coat when it becomes chilly at night or even after a storm. The Quinzee Coat, made by Ruffwear, is a fantastic coat that is excellent for keeping dogs warm. While other businesses provide various dog coats, this one is warm yet lightweight thanks to the synthetic down used in its construction. Additionally, this jacket can be packed away into the integrated stuff sack to save room in your dog pack or backpack. The coat is kept on all night thanks to side buckles.

Place a warm water bottle next to them, wrapped in a shirt

Another choice is to make a hot water bottle and cover it in a shirt or travel towel if your dog is physically shivering. Then, lay the hot water bottle next to your dog while they curl up. Put a Nalgene bottle full of boiling water next to your dog and cover it with a shirt or towel. Never use a water bottle before checking it on your skin. Your dog will also feel the heat if it is too hot for you.

Always bring a lightweight fleece or down blanket

I always bring a lightweight down blanket or a piece of fleece with me when I backpack with Charlie. Right away, people comment, “Well, don’t his nails shred it? Nope. He is aware that using this blanket signals bedtime and that no playing is permitted. He had to be trained, but eventually he adjusted to the new laws. This can be used as a blanket for insulation if someone feels cold during the day, but dogs also need a layer of insulation when they go to sleep at night, just like people do. Depending on how much cushioning your dog requires, a large enough fleece can be folded numerous times to produce additional layers. Fleece or down blankets are excellent for giving your dog a special place to sleep at night because they are lightweight, compact, inexpensive, and can typically fit inside the top lid of your backpack.

Advice: CostCo will sell the Double Black Diamond Packable Throw for $20 during the fall and winter if you shop there. This blanket is available online for $40 for a set of two, but there are fewer color possibilities.

Cuddle your bestie

Have your dogs sleep next to one another if you have two! How could you possibly warm up next to your best friend? For three of our backpacking trips, Charlie and Bear’s friend huddled up to stay warm, and I also put the sleeping bag on top of the group. It was quite warm!

Should my dog bring a sleeping bag when we go camping?

One of our favorite pet travel beds is this one. It rolls up effortlessly into a travel-friendly size, has a waterproof bottom, and is quite fluffy. It is simple to shake off dog hair and other dirt thanks to the handle, which also makes it convenient to transport to and from the car.

To find out more about the bed and discover why we adore it so much, read our frank review.

How Do I Prevent My Dog from Puncturing My Sleeping Pad?

How to prevent your dog from puncturing your sleeping mat is a common query I hear. We have never experienced this, probably for a number of reasons. We first frequently clip the nails of our pets.

Second, we make an effort to prevent people from using our sleeping pads without a sleeping bag on top of them. This creates a barrier between the sleeping pad and their claws. The most crucial thing is that we never let them play inside the tent. Sharp teeth pose the largest danger to sleeping pads.

Having said that, we do always have a stuffed animal with us because Laila is still a puppy. By doing this, we can give her something to bite if she starts to act playfully if she becomes mouthy. Bring a toy inside just in case if you know your dog gets enthusiastic first thing in the morning.

The Therm-a-Rest Pro Trail is the sleeping pad we always use. Even though it weighs a little bit more, we think the sturdy pad is worth the few extra ounces. We’ve used ours at least 100 times and never experienced a problem. They’re still going strong and are quite cozy.

What Size Tent Should I Use When I Camp with My Dog?

Depending on the size of your animal companion, we advise including them when you go tent shopping. If a dog weighs less than 15 pounds and is comfortable in small settings, this guideline may not apply to them.

If you have more than one, it’s probably not necessary to think of them as separate people—especially if the dog is enormous. For instance, when it comes to space, we treat Riia and Laila as one entity, and we still have plenty of room.

See How to Pick the Best Tent for Camping with Dogs for advice on finding a durable outdoor shelter for you and your canine companion.

Will My Dog Get Cold at Night?

Possibly. Dogs with single coats or shorter fur are more susceptible to feeling cold. Unless temperatures are extremely low, those with thick fur or double coats probably won’t. When you go trekking or just for a walk, consider how your dog handles the cold.