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Winter Tips

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Can whippets manage in winter?

Absolutely and to be frank far better than most people!
Enjoying a spirited game of keep away
Some people may look at the sleek body and trace fat of a whippet and wonder if these dogs can cope with the temperature changes come winter time. They are surprised to learn just how well they do! In fact, we have a couple of whippets that actually prefer the cooler months to summer (see video below). Then again, that's not too surprising for us as we also have adventure seekers, fun loving, water swimming whippets!
How we measure snowfall in Ontario, Canada

Once the temperature drops your whippet will still be equally as enthusiastic about exercise if you keep them dressed comfortably. We like to distinguish leash walks from off leash runs as it makes a big difference in your whippet's cardiovascular output and their ability to maintain their core body temperature. Below are some tips we've found helpful to help your whippet make the most of winter.

-Yard: while romping around the yard we don't put coats on our dogs. Or if multiple dogs are being turned out together, it's safer if they're not wearing a coat. That way there's nothing for their legs to get caught up in. Their housemates also won't get the opportunity to mouth and rip the coats off each other. (Yes, young whippets, like horses can make great fun out of various forms of mischief.) Now if you have a frail or senior whippet by all means but a fleece or wool jumper on them and our personal favourite is Hurrta's Expedition Parka. (One caveat we do have to mention is the importance of using common sense. One of our girls attempts to stay outside much of the day, dressed appropriately or not. Depending on your whippet you may have to monitor/limit their yard time and not just assume they'll ask to come in when they've had enough. Whippets do not have a double coat or body fat to make them resistant to hypothermia like Nordic breeds.)
-Plow/Shovel the Potty Area: Some people claim their whippets and other dogs try to potty on the deck. We've NEVER had that problem nor would we permit it! We shovel the yard so our whippets have a walkway to their potty area and we clear the potty area so they're not trying to potty in snow up to their bellies.
-Layering: Will be your best friend. One key point that differentiates dressing a whippet for winter vs a toy dog is that mobility, the freedom to move at great speed is important. That said, we have gone through and made a section reviewing different coats we use for our dogs. Readers can find this section titled "Whippet Coat Reviews" here. We distinguish between walking vs. running/sporting coats. Once the temperature drops below -5*C we typically will put a fleece or wool jumper lining their sporting coat.
-Sports Outdoors: If we're planning a longer trek or if the snow is particularly deep and the dogs are accompanying us while we cross country ski, we will put the equivalent of a one piece snowsuit on them. Euro Dog Design's Dakota (unfortunately no longer in business) makes our favourite water repellent snow suit that is insulated. Weather dependent we will line this with a jumper. If the temperature is fairly mild or the sun is out and hovering just under zero with minimal wind we may just dress them with a jumper and the Hurrta Expedition Parka.
-Paw Care: Keep a very close eye on the status of their paws. If you're doing a lot of leash walking on treated streets you may need to invest in either re-usable balloon booties to protect their paws from the salt or a pair of booties from Mutlucks. We DO NOT recommend or use booties on our dogs unless walking on treated sidewalks.
-Musher's Secret: As part of paw care we couldn't make it through winter without using this wonderful wax on our dog's paws before we go outdoors on adventures. It's a great barrier to keep your dog's paws in excellent condition on various terrains and to prevent painful callouses building up or their paws cracking.
-Too Cold: Yes, even we have our limits. Typically when it's -15*C or lower we do not take our dogs for hikes and trails. It's hard on them and the capillary beds in their lungs. We do dress everyone for their mental health and take them for very short leash walks around the block, but that's it until the weather warms up.
-Pet Safe De-Icer: If you're treating your walkways to prevent ice build up, make sure you're buying products that are safe to use around your dogs. Odds are they will be licking it off their paws and you want to ensure it's safe to do so as some products contain anti-freeze which is toxic to ingest and can lead to renal failure in both dogs and people.

Crampons for you, not your dog. These will give you added traction on icy sidewalks and trails. You can also add walking poles for added stability.

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