Dogs in general are tough animals. They’re equipped with furry coats and leathery toe pads, which help protect them during the cold of winter. That doesn’t mean that some breeds aren’t more susceptible to lower temperatures, though. Short-haired breeds, like Pit Bulls, can get cold in the winter, and might need a bit of help to keep warm.
The inconveniences of the cold of winter
While a short-haired coat is a big contributing factor to getting cold in winter, it’s only one. Pit Bulls in particular have other disadvantages, such as low body fat and the fact that their coat is a single-layer coat. A dog’s coat is insulating, helping to keep them at a comfortable body temperature, regardless of weather. It kind of works like a sweater ― the shorter the hair, the bigger the risk of getting cold during winter. Double-coated dogs are better suited for the cold of winter, as they have a second coat (or, undercoat) to protect them from extreme cold. With the Pit Bull’s smooth single coat, there is less protection compared to some other breeds, such as Huskies.
A healthy Pit Bull is also in pretty good shape, in terms of muscle mass. They have lean muscle and little body fat, which in turn offers less insulation. Even the ears can be an issue! While big floppy ears are a great help during the heat of summer, as the thin blood vessels work as radiators, it’s less great during the cold of winter. In short, if your dog has big, hairless ears, they’re more likely to feel cold.
Dealing with the cold
So how can you help your pup if they start shivering? Or better yet, keep them from shivering, at all? Don’t worry ― there are a lot of options to help your Pit Bull deal with the cold of winter. In fact, most of them are the same methods you’d use to keep yourself warm.
The most straightforward suggestion is to simply limit the time your dog spends outside when it’s cold. Even the toughest sled dogs can’t do it for too long, let alone your thin-coated Pit Bull. Even with a thick coat, the nose, paws, and ears are still exposed to cold pavement and chilly air. Try to only take your dog outside during the cold of winter if there’s going to be movement or exercise involved.
Another helpful tip is sweaters and coats. Yes, just like for humans. You don’t even have to go for the cutesy, fashionable kinds, if you don’t want to ― there’s nothing wrong with a sensible, cable-knit vest. Skip the hat, though. If it’s cold enough for you to consider covering your dog’s head, it’s probably too cold to be outside, to begin with.
Protect your dog’s paws from the cold of winter, if you can. In places where roads are salted, be particularly careful; if you don’t have little booties, make sure to clean the paws every time you come inside. With longer-haired dogs, snow might even get stuck in the hair between the toes, which then needs to be gently melted and removed. Aside from this, sharp snow and ice can scratch and hurt the paw pads, so keep an eye on that, too.
Keep in mind
Avoiding the cold of winter entirely is an impossible feat, and most dogs love playing around in the snow, anyway. But it’s best to limit your pup’s time outdoors, keep them nice and warm, and keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia. With all of this in mind, you and your Pit Bull will have a great time this winter.