How To Go Winter Cold Camping With Dog’s – A Guide

Cold camping with dog in a beautiful snow capped setting

I like winter camping trips a great deal, and I frequently am out there when the weather is down at temperatures way below 30 degrees, which is seen as acceptable as the definition of cold weather camping trips.

Anyway, I digress what I wanted to know was whether it was safe and humane to take my dog with me. So, I did some research and asked some experts.

What Temperature Does Your Dog Need a Coat?

In most cases when camping with your dog, if the temperature is above 45°F, your dog will not need any extra protection from the cold. However, when temperatures drop below 45°F, some breeds start to feel cold.

Suppose temperatures drop as far as 32°F, then it is advised to protect from the cold for dogs with short coats, older dogs, and puppies.

Once you reach 20°F, then that is a point where all dogs will suffer from the cold and coats and other protection supplied.

These figures are simply guides, and there is no reason to remove the coat from a dog at higher temperatures if the dog feels more comfortable.

Cold camping with dog in a beautiful snow capped setting

How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?

Large Dogs

  • 45°F to 60°F – No problems with cold
  • 40°F to 45°F – Minimal Risk of problems
  • 20°F to 35°F – Potentially unsafe temperatures
  • 15°F to 20°F – Dangerous temperatures, be careful
  • 0°F to 15°F – Cold could put your dog’s life at risk

Medium Dogs

  • 50°F to 60°F – No problems with cold
  • 45°F to 50°F – Minimal Risk of problems
  • 30°F to 45°F – Potentially unsafe temperatures
  • 10°F to 30°F – Dangerous temperatures, be careful
  • 0°F to 10°F – Cold could put your dog’s life at risk

Small Dogs

  • 50°F to 60°F – No problems with cold
  • 45°F to 50°F – Minimal Risk of problems
  • 30°F to 45°F – Potentially unsafe temperatures
  • 25°F to 30°F – Dangerous temperatures, be careful
  • 0°F to 25°F – Cold could put your dog’s life at risk

Note: Senior dogs should drop one size

Boxer dog in winter camping with a look of concern
Pooches can show visible concern on a winter camping trip, key an eye out for signs and keep your dog warm with the right cold weather camping gear

Can Dogs Get Hypothermia?

Dogs can (and do) get hypothermia on a camping trip. Hypothermia is the result of abnormally low body temperature. The hypothermia may range from a mild case to much more dangerous.

The average body temperature for a dog is somewhere between 38.3°C and 39.2°C. This is higher than the human body temperature.

This is an indication that your dog should maintain HIGHER temperatures than humans. From this, we see that if you are feeling cold, then so is your dog.

Can Dogs Get Frostbite

When a dog (or human) body experiences abnormally low temperatures, the body goes into survival mode, and it redirects blood flow to warm vital organs.

This leaves the extremities (tail, nose, dog’s feet and paws, cold ears) at risk of tissue damage.

6 tips to keep your dog warm while on camping trip

  1. Make sure to give your dog a snuggle, share body heat with your dog. It will also help you keep warm and your dogs warm. Hold your hands on your cold dogs for instant appreciation.
  2. Buy your four-legged pal a doggy coat. Most dogs usually become very fond of their coats. They are great for retaining body heat and keeping off the elements.
  3. Get a dog sleep bag or snuggle cave, so that your dog will keep warm in the dead of night when colder temperatures often plunge.
  4. Dogs love hot water bottles and will curl up around them if they can. Make sure you wrap the bottle in something like an old clothing item to keep your dog from getting burned.
  5. Make sure to have something on the floor to stop the cold permeating up from the cold ground. It makes a big difference to you and your dog.
  6. More food helps the body produce more energy, so increase his nutrient rich food ratios when camping with your dog.

Dog bagpack

LIFEUNION Adjustable Service Dog Supply Backpack Saddle Bag

You are going to have to take a few extras along when you take your dog camping, so the first tip is to get yourself a dog backpack saddlebag.

I particularly like this one because of its bright orange color, making your dog stand out more and less likely to get shot by some careless hunter.

This model is constructed from 600D double polyester material. It’s pretty durable and also waterproof. I figure the bag will also serve to shield Zac from some of the bitterly cold weather winds.

The pack also has a secure handle and D ring on top for keeping control of the dog.


  • Comes in 4 winter camping colors
  • Comes in 3 Sizes


  • When out in winter camping conditions, you may have to balance the load, or it slips.

Keeping Your Dog Warm

Unless your dog is a cold-weather breed, he is going to feel the cold. Obviously, he cannot explain this to you, and what you think is a pleasant walk in the chilly air and snow is going to be sheer hell for your dog.

Now I hate when city folks dress their dogs up in cute little outfits. That is just not my style; I think it’s silly.

But putting a warm coat on a dog is a sensible thing to do. It’s not cute; it’s practical. Remember, most dogs are no more suited to snow and icy weather than we are. They do and will feel the cold.

Winter Camping Coat for Small to Medium Dogs

PET ARTIST Dog Winter Coat Hoodie Snowsuit Apparel with Leash Hole

Amazon’s Choice

You may have a smaller dog that cannot utilize the dog backpack I just reviewed. In this case, keeping to dog warm can be done with a simple coat.

Your dog will be kept warm with this coat and will also benefit from being more evident to hunters out in the wild.

The coat is waterproof, windproof, and snow proof. The coat is a practical piece of kit, and although it looks good, the looks are not the point.

The nylon outer layer and the inner cotton layer will ensure that your puppy is kept warm. The hood is especially useful when temperatures drop but can also be stored away.

The coat has been made for a leash seen by the hole built for the leash to pass through.


  • Four sizes to suit all small dogs
  • Four colors (Blue, Red, Gold, Silver)


  • Actual Sizes seem smaller than advertised sizes

Reflective Coat for Medium to Large Dog

MIGOHI Reflective Waterproof Windproof Reversible Stormguard Dog Vest

Venchas Choice

This coat has a waterproof outer layer made from Terylene, with fleece and cotton inner layer for larger dogs. You can access the dog’s collar and harness through a zipper opening.

For safety, the waterproof coat has reflective edge tape for nighttime use. This coat will fit most dogs; it comes in 8 sizes ranging from extra-small to XXX-Large.


  • Comes in five colors (3 bright and two dark)
  • Sizing seems to be accurate


  • Dogs do not seem to like elastic straps around back legs

Protecting your dog’s paws

Walking through the snow for several hours can be tough on your dog’s paws. Frequently, you will get ice balls forming on the foot’s underside, and that can make walking very painful.

You risk your dog’s health when you take your dog out walking in this kind of severe weather (unless he is a breed that is more adapted to that sort of climate).

Dog booties

EXPAWLORER Waterproof Dog Boots Reflective Non Slip Pet Booties

Even before we consider cold weather, dog boots are a good idea when hiking with your dog. For dogs living in the city, suddenly running round on rock and other hard surfaces can be tough on the feet.

In winter camping, cold weather can be hard on paws as your dogs cold tolerance can be felt from direct contact on the ground. Boots are also advantageous in hot weather, where sidewalks can be burning hot.

Getting the right fit is of the utmost importance, and the Amazon website gives detailed instructions on choosing the right size. In cold weather, the extremities feel the cold the worst, and foot protection and the covering is essential.


  • Buyers report that these boots stay on securely in winter camping conditions
  • Four sizes available to fit any dog


  • Possible problems with the Velcro fasteners.

Keeping Your Dog Warm at Night

Believe it or not, there are still some people that leave their dog outside the tent at night in icy conditions. That isn’t kind. But even not taking adequate measures to ensure your dog is warm at night inside the tent is not a lot better.

When camping with your dog, you indeed should find some way to raise the dog off the bitter cold that permeates up from the cold ground under the tent. That should be an absolute minimum.

Your know-how in the dead of night can be freezing in a tent, and you can feel the biting cold in the air. However, you have a quality sleeping bag wrapped around you trapping that body warmth in.

You really should implement some similar arrangements for your dog. I have given a couple of options below. I favour the second choice, but either will work.

If we are talking extreme weather, both you and your dog must make full use of hot water bottles. Just boil up some water, fill hot water bottles, then wrap the dog’s one up in an old shirt and place it underneath the dog bed or fleece.

It is a simple solution but can start the night off well, and the heat will last a while, giving you time to fall asleep.

Dog Sleeping Bag


These comfortable dog sleeping bags are made of polyester on the outside and fleece on the inside. It has a zipper on the end and one side of the bag.

The bag is thick enough to protect from cold floor surfaces and should ensure that your dog is kept warm at night.

The only problem I foresee when camping with your dog is while you may well tuck your dog in when you first turn in, by the time the dog has stood up a couple of times, it will end up laying on top of the bag.

The bag comes in grey and black variants and rolls up when not in use.


  • Reasonable price
  • Compact when not in use


  • Suspect dog will not benefit from cover and lay on top

FURHAVEN Pet – Round Orthopedic Snuggery Blanket Burrowing Cave

Amazon’s Choice

While the sleeping bag above is fine, I think that the burrowing cave is a more natural dog solution. I know my dog would love to borrow deep inside this and would soon work it out.

A dog will naturally burrow to keep warm; sleeping bags are a human solution; we have to design pet accessories with the dog in mind, rather than just aping human designs.

It comes in nine different colors, four different sizes, and three types of mattresses. They are particularly suitable for dogs with arthritis. The cover is completely removable and machine washable.


  • Totally customizable
  • More natural for the dog


  • Bulky to carry, although could be compressed and tied
  • Possibly would have been better to use more robust materials

Wrapping up on cold camping with dog’s

Husky and family in snow around a campfire cold camping
Make sure your dog feels at home and close to you when winter camping

Looking at the range of equipment I found to keep the dog warm, it seems that it could be quite manageable to take Zac (my dog) camping in freezing weather.

It is all common sense. For example, we wouldn’t go wandering around in the snow in our bare feet, so why should your dog?

The only question you would have to decide was if you were going to be hiking far, in which case maybe the dog sleeping bag is better, or if you can camp near your truck, then the dog cave would be better.

Finally, do not forget the importance of internal fuel. Make sure your dog is fed well, and you have plenty of snacks on hand, Cold weather increases the appetite as the body needs fuel to maintain temperatures.